The second of two major US films about gay conversion released in 2018, following The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Boy Erased is the sophomore directorial effort from Joel Edgerton, based on Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name. Lucas Hedges, in a Golden Globe nominated performance, plays Jared Eamons (based on Garrard), the son of a baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) who willingly places himself into a gay conversion therapy program. He had been raped by a fellow student (Joe Alwyn), and then outed by the same student to his conservative, christian parents in a bid for his silence – an incident that led to him confessing that he has feelings for men.
His mother (Nicole Kidman) drops him off at the camp and is promptly told that Jared can’t tell her anything about what happens in his sessions. Things start off fairly normally, with a series of group activities aimed at discovering the root causes of their sexuality, but turn into traumatising emotional abuse pretty fast, with preacher Victor Sykes (Edgerton) even staging mock funerals for pupils to show them the “error” of their ways.
“The film’s sensitivity, though it is an ethical strength, is also a dramatic limitation. Boy Erased uses Jared’s story — which includes a high school attempt at heterosexual romance, a horrifying campus sexual assault and a chaste night spent in the bed of another man — primarily as a window into the issues raised by Conley’s book.”
— The New York Times
“It has the paranoid edge of a Seventies science fiction classic but gives way to something more like a homily. Rather than an exhortation to anger, it’s an invitation to think.”
— Eye For Film
Did You Know?
Although written for the screen and directed by Joel Edgerton, Garrard Conley was heavily involved in the production process, giving the actor/director his blessing to adapt his story for the screen. The sizeable ensemble cast is rounded out with supporting turns from openly gay pop culture figures including Xavier Dolan and Troye Sivan, offering a rare chance for LGBTQ actors to play LGBTQ roles in a mainstream film. Review our Gay Themed Films Here
All pictures reproduced courtesy of Universal Pictures