Would You Kill for Me?The Mary Bailey Story (2023 Lifetime)
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Director: Simone Stock
Writer: Gregg McBride
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Told through three different perspectives, Would You Kill for Me? The Mary Bailey Story follows the volatile relationship between three generations of women – Ella (Melissa Joan Hart), her daughter Veronica (Olivia Scriven), and her granddaughter Mary (Presley Allard) whom she raises for Veronica. After Veronica becomes deeply entangled with Willard (Connor McMahon) and later marries him, the lives of all three women take a turn for the worse when Willard becomes increasingly abusive. Veronica suffers a deep betrayal when her best friend Susan (Celina “Spookyboo” Myers), becomes pregnant with Willard’s child, further complicating their toxic relationship, leaving Ella, Mary and her half-brother Sammy at the mercy of Willard’s alcoholic rampages. The family fears for their lives, culminating in one horrific night when Willard is shot dead…but the identity of who pulled the trigger is not revealed till the very end.
The Mary Bailey Story, based on the real-life experiences of Mary Elizabeth Bailey, author of “My Mother’s Soldier,” whom at 11 years-old, was forced to do the unthinkable.
The movie starts off with a voice-over from Mary Bailey telling the story of the worst night of her life.
A drunk pulls into the driveway and angrily comes into the home. His name is Willard, and he argues with his mother-in-law, Ella, and his wife, Veronica. Things get violent, and a gun goes off.
Veronica calls the police and confesses to shooting her husband, but who is she covering for? The police question her, and Veronica says that her daughter Mary shot Willard. All three women are taken down to the police station and tested for gunshot residue. Ella is the only one released from custody.
Veronica testifies in court, and we see the story from her perspective. Veronica had Mary when she was a teen, and the baby’s dad was a married man. Veronica volunteers at a local church and meets a handsome man named Willard. She starts spending her time with him and leaves Mary with her mother Ella.
Willard is a drunk and controlling. He asks Veronica not to tell anyone she has a baby because the congregation will think she is a whore. Veronica tells Willard that she doesn’t want to date another bad man, now that she has a daughter. Ella also doesn’t approve and tells Willard to stay away from her daughter.
One year later, Willard is dating another woman and runs into Veronica at a cake shop. He is about to be a dad to Veronica’s former best friend,, Susan. Despite all that, Willard wants another chance with Veronica. They quickly marry.
The relationship is abusive, and Veronica sends Mary to live with her mother. Ella disapproves of Veronica’s choices and is ashamed she raised someone who could act like Veronica.
Willard wants to prove to everyone and forces himself on her. It is how she conceived of her next baby, a baby boy named Sammy. Veronica is disgusted by Willard, and he can’t even pick her and his son up from the hospital. (He is too drunk, and Susan comes to pick her up. They are still sleeping together.) Veronica is trapped in an abusive relationship. She tries to talk to her pastor, who tells her to keep the peace.
Willard buys a new car even though they can’t buy groceries. When he gets abusive with the kids and Veronica, as a churchgoer sees, Willard beats him up. He also beats Ella when she tries to intervene. Mary watches everything seething with anger. Mary wants to take matters into her own hands. Veronica claims Mary took a shotgun down and shot her stepfather.
It is Ella’s turn to take the stand, and the movie portrays her version of events. Ella remembers Veronica as not being interested in being a mother and leaving the baby with Ella while she went out to live it up. Ella walks in on Veronica high and ransacking the medical cabinet for a poison to kill Willard. Willard and Veronica move in with Ella, and she witnesses Willard shooting at Mary. He wacks Ella so hard in the head that she loses her hearing. He tells Ella that he doesn’t want to be the bad guy, but he will do bad things if he has to.
It is the night of the murder, and Ella claims that Veronica pressured Mary into killing her stepfather.
The judge ordered that Mary testify in her mother’s case or go on trial for the murder herself.
Mary thinks about what to do while living in Foster care. Her foster mother tries to bring joy to Mary’s life during this difficult time. (I loved her!) The foster mother tells Mary that she should talk to her mother. Mary thinks that Veronica is in jail and asks to have a ride to see her, but is surprised to learn Veronica has been out on parole since the day Mary went into foster care. Mary takes the stand.
The movie shows Mary’s perspective and confirms Veronica and Willard’s partying ways. Mary takes care of her mother instead of the other way around. Mary thinks about running away but knows she needs to protect her mother from Willard. Ella is still a figure in her life, but more as a spiritual guide who takes Mary to church where she feels she belongs. She confides in the pastor, who tells her that the abuse is just a test from God.
The home environment grows increasingly toxic, and Mary protects Sammy from Willard’s drunken rages.
There is a Christmas dinner scene that is particularly rude. Mary loves her grandmother.
Mary next recalls the night of the murder. She says that she was told what to do. Veronica was with another man when she wrecked Willard’s truck. The accident sent Willard into a rage, and he beats all three women before drunkenly passing out. He tells Veronica that it will be the weekend she dies.
Veronica and Ella try to decide what to do next. Veronica asks Mary to shoot Willard and make sure he is dead. Mary takes the shotgun and stands over Willard, shooting him once in the chest, but the gun doesn’t go off. Veronica checks to see that it is loaded and sends her daughter back to finish, but it doesn’t go off again. Mary can’t do it again and begs her mother not to make her do it, but Veronica tells Mary to think of Sammy. This time, the gun goes off just as Willard wakes up.
Veronica tries to think of what to do, calls 911, and leaves to celebrate with her girlfriends.
After hearing all sides, the jury finds Veronica guilty of murder with mercy. (Meaning no Death Penalty. Veronica is sentenced to ten years in prison without parole.)
Mary is returned to her foster parents. Ella moves out of state, and the pastor tells Mary that she will have to move out of state so no one knows her history. He tells Mary to be strong, and she cries, saying that she doesn’t want to be strong anymore.
Ten years later, Veronica is free from jail, and Mary waits outside. Veronica takes her mother in and even has a room made up for her. Mary sits her mother down and gives her red nail polish. Mary tells Veronica that she can forgive her and she will never forget. She has found peace and offers Veronica the same kind of grace.
Side Note/Stray Thoughts
The pastor’s advice and lack of intervention were enraging.
Melissa Joan Hart’s choice to star in this movie over a holiday flick was interesting. I have been excited about her last few dramatic roles and thought both told compelling stories. (Even if she was a featured LEAD character.)
Numbers of Kills: 🔪 (1 knife)
Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale)
🍷🍷🍷 (3 Glasses of Wine)
Should you watch it?
Pour it up! (Give it a shot)
Put a Cork in It (Skip It)
What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel
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