MOVIE REVIEW – Boy Erased
Review by Geoff Jenke
Boy Erased tells the story of Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Boy Erased is the true story of one young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.
Written and directed by, and let’s not forget also starring, Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased takes us on an uneasy and complex journey. The movie is based on the memoirs of Garrard Conley who suffered in a gay conversion therapy program. According to the credits at the end of the film, over 700,000 people in America have been subjected to these programs, many of them run by people with no medical background. This is an area I didn’t know about so by that feature alone, the film is educational. It also highlights how some parents will do anything rather than accept their children as they are.
Nicole Kidman is wonderful as Jared’s mother, especially in the second half of the film when she starts to become concerned for her son. There are a few quite moving moments between Jared and his mother. Another fine performance from Nicole who is getting better and better with age.
Russell Crowe is also good as a loving father, until he discovers his son’s secret, and while there is no doubt he thinks he is doing the right thing by sending his son to therapy, one wonders why he didn’t investigate more about the treatment?
At first look, the treatment at the Centre looks quite tame and subdued. There is no abuse and pain. Joel Edgerton plays the role of the leader of the group trying to “convert” the men and women with a serene calmness. Watching the movie, you know this is going to change at some point.
The thing I really liked about the movie was that I didn’t know which way the story was going to go. At crucial times during the film it changes in a direction I didn’t see coming. I kept “second guessing” the way it was heading only to be wrong. A good sign of a great movie.
Although slightly rushed towards the end, Boy Erased has many strong performances and is an excellent drama. Go see it and while you won’t walk away feeling on top of the world, you will be educated.