Boy Erased is a thoughtful and engaging film about conversation therapy

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Boy Erased is a thoughtful and engaging film about conversation therapy

Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

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     Boy Erased tells the true story of Jared Eamons, a gay high schooler who is forced into conversation therapy by his conservative parents. This film is written, directed, and stars Joel Edgerton, Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe.

     I admire the work of Joel Edgerton. His previous directorial work was incredible in his debut The Gift (2015), which was one of the best, if not the best, film of that year. So, it goes without saying that I had high expectations from this film, and for the most part, it lived up to them. Edgerton creates a realistic and painful look into the truth about conversation therapy.

     Conversation therapy is a program created by conservative Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and a disease. The goal of this practice is to change the kids back to “normal” and make them feel shame for their “sins.”

     Everyone in this film is at the top of their game, especially Lucas Hedges. Hedges has built up quite the resume over the past few years, starring in acclaimed films such as Lady Bird, Mid90s, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, and Manchester By The Sea, which he received an Oscar nomination for. He is at the top of his game, here, giving by far his career best performance so far. He is able to pull off the dread and shame that his character is feeling during this program perfectly. He proves that he can lead a film on his own, since all of his previous performances have all been supporting. Hedges is hollywood’s biggest rising star, and he shows no sign of stopping.

     The supporting cast also did an incredible job in the film, with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman giving powerful performances. Crowe plays Marshall Eamons, Jared’s father, who is also a pastor at their local church. Crowe’s performance in the film is very subtle, and that’s what makes it so great. He is able to show internal struggle of a man who is battling his beliefs with his family, and the pain of having to remove his only son from his life in a subtle way that makes it realistic and not over the top.

     Kidman was also great in the film as Nancy Eamons, Jared’s mother. She was more outspoken and has more screen time than Crowe, but she was still able to portray her struggles having to watch her son be forced into something that she knows is hurting him.

     Joel Edgerton plays Victor Sykes, the head of the Refugee Program, and his performance was good, but nothing to go crazy over. He was never really given a moment to shine, which is fine, because the film wasn’t really about him, but nothing about his performance was anything special.

     This film can be tough to watch because it shows what these kids are forced to do, such as being forced to hate their father, and the amount of shame that is thrown at them constantly. There’s some really hard-hitting imagery in this film, one showing a boy being hit repeatedly with a bible by his entire family in front of a crowd. Many of the practices in this program could be classified as torture, and Edgerton doesn’t shy away from any of it.

     Jared as a character was very well developed. I was happy to see that his sexuality wasn’t the only aspect of his life that defined him. We get to see how he views the world that his unique visions on life helped him become an accomplished writer, and it really helped us feel attached to him as a character.

     This film can sometimes feel a bit Oscar-bait at times. There are a few scenes between two character that feel like they only existed to be an “Oscar moment” where they show a scene from the film when announcing the nominations, but there were only a few of those scenes so it wasn’t too distracting.

     There was another character introduced in the beginning of the film in the Refugee program named Jon, played by Xavier Dolan, who we spend a good amount of time with. His character fades away into the background later into the film, and there was no clear reason that the character was so prominent in the film, and we were never given a full round to his character.

     However, Boy Erased is a great film that is filled with depth and sends a message to the entire world about the truth about conversation therapy. This is definitely worth seeing, and the film opens to local theaters on November 16.

     Rating: 8/10

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Boy Erased is a thoughtful and engaging film about conversation therapy