Now I am at a conflict having just watched "Prayers for Bobby" because there is no doubt that it makes you think especially if you have been brought up in a Christian family but at the same time it seems like a movie which is on the attack, wanting to rip into those with deep founded religious beliefs. That is not the only thing which has left me at conflict because the true story on which "Prayers for Bobby" is based appears to be a very powerful one but then there is a distinct lack of subtlety and blatant manipulation going on which makes it at times feel forced. It ended up annoying me because watching "Prayers for Bobby" I could see a movie which could have really been enlightening and made people think but because its message was done in such a forceful and occasionally forced manner it made it feel an angry movie.
Now I don't know the true story on which "Prayers for Bobby" is based but I recognize it as we are taken back to the early 80s where there was a lot of ignorance when it came to homosexuality. And we are taken into the religiously extreme Griffith household where young Bobby is struggling to deal with the fact he is different, that he is gay and that his mum being extremely religious believes it a sin and wants to cure her son what ever it takes. This evolves as Bobby's struggles get harder as his mum won't accept him leading to battles with depression as he misses the closeness he once had.
That is the first part of "Prayers for Bobby", a very slimmed down first half which importantly takes us back to the early 80s and the extreme views and ignorance of the time when it came to homosexuality, highlighted in a scene which mentions AIDS. Now Bobby's story of struggling to deal with his sexuality is a good one, it feels real especially when it comes to his mum looking for "the cure". And watching Bobby struggle, becoming conflicted because of who he is and his desire to please his mum is a powerful one especially how this part of the movie ends. On the subject of which there are some brilliant visuals in "Prayers for Bobby" and it certainly at times does not feel like some cheaply put together TV movie.
But then there is the other side to "Prayers for Bobby" and that is Mary Griffith being an extremely religious woman having to deal firstly with Bobby being gay but also having her faith tested. Now for me this could have been brilliant, it could have opened up people's eyes to ignorance and bring a bigger understanding when it comes to homosexual Christians as it mentions interpreting the bible in current days and not taking old text which were interpreted in old days as verbatim. But my trouble is that it comes across as angry and on the attack against devoutly religious people over their ignorance. It skews the message because part of the message is that those who are extremely religious can be hateful but the representation of those extremists in the movie is done in an almost hateful manner. It is where a bit more subtlety would have helped because what "Prayers for Bobby" has to say is good but for me it is too forceful in doing so.
Now I mentioned that "Prayers for Bobby" was a made for TV movie and this is where I have a bit more conflict because the acting through out with Sigourney Weaver leading the movie is good. There are numerous scenes which feature brilliant dramatic performances, not just from Weaver as Ryan Kelley as Bobby is brilliant from start to finish. But then there are moments which are typical TV movie and a zoom in on a scene where Mary is speaking to a group of people weakens the power of the scene as it borders on being cheesy.
What this all boils down to is that "Prayers for Bobby" is a movie which has a powerful message it wants to get across but unfortunately at times it is too forceful in doing so. Aside from that it is also a powerful drama which is brilliantly acted and despite some typical TV movie moments is better than your normal made for TV movie.