Boy Erased is the sophomore directorial effort from Australian actor, Joel Edgerton, who took Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name and has adapted it into a powerful, gut-wrenching relevant film.
It follows the life of teen Jared Eamons played by Lucas Hedges, the son of a Baptist Pastor who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay. A complex film, Boy Erased delves deep into the highly controversial topic of gay conversion therapy, a practice thought to “cure” or “fix” homosexuality which unfortunately is a topical subject matter as recent reports have revealed such practices are still prevalent and operating across Australia.
Jared is given the ultimatum by his parents, to try and change to become what they believe to be “normal”, or he will no longer be a welcomed member of their family. Much to their relief, he chooses to change. Whilst it may seem like this decision is for their approval, Jared appears to be fighting a losing battle with his own demons, becoming clear that this may be a desperate attempt at freedom from himself more than anything else.
Boy Erased brings Hollywood heavyweights Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe together on-screen for the first time ever. They play Jared‘s parents who are torn between their lifelong devotion to the church and their unwavering love for their son; which to their disbelief is somehow now in question. Both actors play characters who on the surface audiences may struggle to empathise with, but as the story unfolds, they manage to bring an authenticity and sincerity to the roles that leave you with a semblance of hope. Kidman and Crowe‘s performances are so well-crafted that they catch you off guard by uncovering the traces of humanity and compassion beneath the outward-facing layers of intolerance and control by those desperately wanting their loved ones to conform. Not to be overlooked, Lucas Hedges who plays main character Jared Eamons is incredible. I just felt sad for his character the whole time and he really did an amazing job.
The supporting cast featuring Troye Sivan, Joe Alwyn and Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist, Flea, may only get the chance to shine in fleeting moments but they do so in a way that elevates the story and leaves you caring about how their lives may turn out long after you leave the cinema.
There was no attempt to sugar coat this story, there was no desire to create picture perfect moments and there was certainly no glitz and glamour. Boy Erased was raw, it was honest and it relied on its stellar cast to carry a story which deserved to be told.
Boy Erased is in cinemas from November 8.