›› Boy Erased ‹‹

a film by Joel Edgerton.

2018 | 115 mins | US.

the stark repercussions of forcing a child to go against their natural sexuality.

Dave says:

Written, directed and starring Joel Edgerton, as based on the heart-wrenching memoir by Garrard Conley, this compelling feature vividly depicts the stark repercussions of forcing a child to go against their natural sexuality.

It tells the story of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges); a likeable all-American boy who finds himself outed by a college room-mate who he thought he could trust. Forced to face the homophobic backlash of his Baptist preacher of a father (Russell Crowe) and a devoted mother (Nicole Kidman) all too subservient to her husbands' demands, Jared seemingly has no other option but to undergo gay conversion therapy at an institution run by a dubious character known as Victor Sykes (Edgerton); namely a man who preaches the word of God, but lacks any of his love and compassion in return. Then again, it's only a matter of time before Mother Nancy begins to question the methods employed by Victor and when she receives a phone call from a son clearly in distress, both parents find themselves forced to accept gay blood in the family; whether they want to, or not.

Okay, here I'll lay my cards on the table, given I'm frankly repulsed by the sickening practice of so-called gay conversion therapy. Having said that, this thought-provoking work goes along way to showcasing the sheer brutality of a system designed to shame you by any means possible into going against the grain of your inherent sexuality and in the process, being forced to suppress your very self being.

Yet with such an emotive storyline, couple with the fine performances of its A-list cast, somehow this feature lacks the dramatic punch that it should have had. In part this is down to Edgerton's character Victor, given he comes across as a man who you really do not loathe; rather one who you strongly disapprove of his beliefs, methods and homophobic views. A statement that could equally apply to Jared's father, who is far from being an unloving parent; rather he's a deeply religious man who loves his son, only is troubled by his sons' sexuality. That you can understand his confliction, goes without saying; unlike Victor whose motives for wanting to right perceived sexual wrongs, are only revealed in the closing 'real life' credits and that to many, will arrive as no surprise. The consequence of which is that Victor comes across as somewhat of a cardboard villain. Hedges however is excellent throughout, wonderfully portraying a young man all but struggling to come to terms with his sexual desires, yet refusing to hate his father for putting him in such a homophobic environment. Only the real star here is Kidman, who gives a beautifully balanced turn of a loving mother who gradually comes to understand and moreover accept her sons' homosexuality, in the face of the bigoted views of her husband.

That the practice of gay conversion therapy is still legal in all too many states of America, cannot help but leave you with a bitter taste in your cinematic mouth come close-of-play, all of which goes to show how the fight for LGBTQ rights is still far from over.

›› available as part of the Universal Pictures UK catalogue: June 2019 / UK.
›› posted: Saturday, 13th November, 2021.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

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