Boy Erased

Written and directed by Golden Globe-nominated Australian actor Joel Edgerton who is best known for 2015’s The Gift and 2016’s Loving, Boy Erased is a powerfully-acted drama that explores gay conversion therapy and its negative impact on the LGBT participants. The story follows the emotionally fragile Jared Eamons, played by the terrific young Oscar-nominated actor Lucas Hedges, who is sent to a religious-oriented gay conversion therapy program by his deeply religious parents living in small town America. His father Marshall, played by Oscar winner Russell Crowe, is a local car dealer and a Baptist preacher who is horrified to learn that his son is homosexual, while his mother Nancy, played by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, is equally shocked but slightly more sympathetic. In a series of flashbacks, the audience witnesses Jared’s struggles with his sexual orientation in which he tries to deny it as a result of his religious and conservative upbringing. Eventually, he comes to terms with who he is after a particularly traumatic experience in college and decides to come out to his indignant parents who believe that he can be cured at a gay conversion therapy center. While undergoing so-called treatment under the guidance of the leader Victor Sykes, played by Golden Globe nominee Joel Edgerton, the predominantly young men undergo verbal and emotional abuse supposedly designed to help them overcome their homosexuality. Jared becomes friends with the other participants and comes to resent Victor and the other employees who lack the sympathy to understand what they are going through in a society that tells them that they are morally wrong and deficient. Through his subtle yet emotionally provocative performance, Lucas Hedges brings a level of realism that allows the audience to truly understand how damaging and ineffective gay conversion therapy is on the LGBT participants who are sometimes forced to remain at the facility against their will. The fact that the movie is based on a true story and countless other experiences makes it even more heartbreaking to see the level of torment many of the victims go through during and after what is described as helping homosexuals become straight. Overall, I found it to be a truly extraordinary and harrowing account of the inner workings of gay conversion therapy and how it does nothing besides scarring those who undergo this so-called therapy; the stellar acting performances from the extremely talented cast helps to humanize the LGBT participants or victims as well as their well-intentioned but flawed family members.

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