Prayers for Bobby (2009)


Prayers for Bobby is Russell Mulcahy‘s adaptation of Leroy F. Aaronsbook. The script was written by Katie Ford and the film stars Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny and Ryan Kelley.

The Griffiths are a very devout Presbyterian family. So when their son Bobby (Ryan Kelley) comes out, this leads to a serious rift in the family. Spearheaded by his mother Mary (Sigourney Weaver) there are several attempts to “heal” Bobby, which ultimately leads to total estrangement and finally Bobby’s suicide. This in turn leads Mary to question her own belief.

Prayers for Bobby is pretty much the definition of “tearjerker”. Holy motherfucking crap, how I cried. Thankfully, it’s a tearjerker in the best sense: in the end you arrive snifflingly at a happy place. And it has the heart certainly in the right place.

Everybody jokes about Lifetime movies. I think this one was the first I ever saw (there are advantages to not being American and growing up with American TV) and it explains everything about Lifetime’s bad reputation – and at the same time nothing. It’s cheesy and dramatic and the script could have done with a lot more subtlety.

But it’s also very well acted, especially by Sigourney Weaver and altogether it draws a convincing portrait of Mary Griffiths. Her development and journey from blind belief to questioning to consoling god with what she knows of her son was beautifully done.

The events of the film (and life, in this case) are very dramatic, of course. And despite knowing what was going to happen, it still hit me very hard when they received the message of Bobby’s suicide. Ryan Kelley manages to give Bobby so much life that you want him to succeed very badly, despite knowing that it won’t happen.

Seeing the film in the cinema and without the advertisement breaks was a bit awkward, though – they didn’t really take care with the (sound) editing when piecing everything together and so you had quite a few very jarring jumps, partly even in the middle of a note from a song. That was quite unnecessary.

Summarising: Definitely worth a watch. Just keeps tissues handy.

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