If you missed it over the weekend, you have one more chance to catch the excellent television movie Prayers for Bobby on Lifetime on Tuesday. And if you saw it, email or Facebook your friends, relatives, co-workers and fellow churchgoers and tell them to watch as well. This is a movie that should be seen by young and old, gay and especially straight. Yes, it's that important.
Set in 1970's California, Prayers for Bobby is the true story of Mary Griffith (Sigourney Weaver), a devout Christian who raised her children with a conservative religious perspective. When her younger son, Bobby (Ryan Kelley), reveals to his older brother that he is gay, the entire family dynamic is irrevocably shifted. While Bobby's father and siblings slowly come to terms with his homosexuality, Mary turns to her steadfast beliefs in an attempt to "cure" her son.
Weaver, in her first made-for-TV movie, faced the daunting task of humanizing someone many might consider reprehensible, given Mary's rejection of her son's homosexuality. Although Weaver wasn't raised with these types of beliefs, as a mother she can relate to the connection with her children.
"I have to say that I never felt judgmental of Mary. She meant the best for her son. That's what's so frightening. And as a mother, I totally connected with her because we all want our children to be safe and to make safe choices," says the actress who met with Mary before shooting the film. "As far as she was concerned, this was a choice. And I think she didn't understand that this was part of who Bobby was. She thought he was choosing a life, and she readily admits that she was incredibly ignorant.".
Alienated and quickly becoming more detached from the safety of his close knit family, Bobby's depression drives him to suicide. Now, faced with the devastating tragedy of losing a child, Mary begins to question her faith and, through a painfully emotional journey, ultimately draws strength and support from the gay community, joining PFLAG in an effort to help other families.
Here's what critics are saying:
Indeed, the story is told with subtlety and sophistication, and the performances — especially Ryan Kelley as Bobby and Weaver, who will almost certainly be in the running for an Emmy — are excellent. It may be the best TV movie on gay issues ever, precisely because there is absolutely nothing cautious or watered down in its execution. — Brent Hartinger, AfterElton.com
Prayers for Bobby certainly has. . .in Weaver a leading lady whose prayers for a part worthy of her talents have been forcefully answered. — Brian Lowry, Variety
Bobby becomes a universal story of a child trying to please a parent, and of a parent who learns too late that children will, after all, listen. — David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
Prayers for Bobby will play three times on Lifetime: Saturday, January 24, 9-11 PM; Sunday, January 25, 8-10 PM; and Tuesday, January 27, 9-11 PM.