entertainment

Review | ‘Boy Erased’ is a moving story that shows the absurdity of gay conversion therapy

The movie is based on Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name

2018-12-18

Words: Steve Brown

2018 has definitely been the year of LGBT movies, with the likes of Love, Simon and Alex Strangelove and many more, hitting both the big and small screens.

But Boy Erased takes a different look at the LGBT movie. Instead of the romantic comedy, it deals with the [ridiculous] concept of gay conversion therapy.

Based on Garrard Conley's 2016 memoir, Boy Erased follows college student Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) who is enrolled on a gay 'conversion' therapy course in the conservative US Bible Belt, where he comes across other young people struggling to reconcile their faith with their sexuality.

Told through Jared’s eyes, the film starts with the college student already enrolling onto the course and through his time there, we learn why he has been taken there through flashbacks as he does his ‘homework’.

One particular flashback scene, which is sort of the catalyst into why he ends up going to therapy, is hard to watch and will leave those who have not read the book shocked and disturbed by what happens.

Understandably, the film deals with the emotional strained relationship between Jared and his parents, played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe - a reverend at their local church.

But the focus on the film is not about Jared’s sexuality but about the so-called gay ‘conversion’ therapy that is still happening around the world today.

As the first half of the movie gets underway, you start to feel like you are in the therapy room yourself as leader of the group, Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton) is constantly heard preaching about how the power of God can ‘convert’ you back to heterosexuality.

Although the film features a number of other gay teens at the therapy – including the likes of Troye Sivan – there is not much development with these characters.

It feels like it is building up to something but then stops. It mainly follows Jared watching the other people go through ‘therapy’ before it’s his turn to get up on the podium.

As much as I would have liked to see more character development, it is understandable why as the film is based on the memoir and appears to stick to the original text rather than changing the story for narrative purposes.

Starring the likes of Academy Award winners Crowe and Kidman, as well as Edgerton – who also directed the film – every gives brilliant performances but the narrative seems to focus more on the therapy rather than using the talents of these brilliant actors.

It feels like any actor could have played each character and it still would have been well done. There is no one who really stands out as Oscar worthy but that is by no means a criticism.

Kidman, as always, is brilliant and Crowe shows his softer side, a role which I haven’t seen him play in many roles.

Whether or not the film will win any gongs during the upcoming award’s season – although Hedges has been nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes – we will have to wait and see.

But whether or not the film takes home any awards does, by no means, make it a bad film.

If anything, the film just being out there and showing the harshness and pure ridiculously of gay conversion therapy is a good thing.

Anyone who believes the so-called therapy actually works should see this movie.

Rating: 4*

Boy Erased is currently out in the US and is set to hit UK cinemas in February 2019.

Watch the trailer below: