By Valerie Milano
Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman in "Boy Erased"
Boy Erased depicts the horrors of conversion therapy, a program that thousands of LGBTQ members have undergone in attempts to "fix" them.
Directed by Joel Edgerton (The Gift),
Boy Erased tells the story of a young man whose parents can't accept that he is homosexual and take steps to "change" him, something millions of people know all too well.
Jared is the son of a small-town Baptist pastor who gets outed to his parents at age 19. In efforts to "fix" him, Jared's parents, Marshall and Nancy, send him to a gay conversion program. The teen is faced with the ultimatum to attend the program or to be rejected by his family and community. The film follows the troubling reality of conversion programs as well as the lifelong impact it has on relationships as well as the individual.
"It's about something scary and terrifying, but more in a real-world sense," said writer, co-star and director Edgerton to IMDB. "It is a film to make you feel tense...I was looking to do something dramatic and something that would put a positive message out into the world."
Lucas Hedges shines alongside Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe in this true story based on Garrard Conley's memoir, Boy Erased. Hedges (Manchester By The Sea, Ladybird) portrays the role of Jared beautifully; we can feel his confusion, pain, and longing for acceptance throughout the entire film. Tackling such rough subject matter, this film requires a wide performance range as well as a strong level of skill; Hedges performance was exemplary.
Emotional, verbal and physical abuse in conversion therapy was illustrated in a way that was hard-to-watch at times but delivered the topic in a clear way.The dynamic relationships between Jared and his parents, peers and the head therapist at the conversion program help intensify the struggle to understand as well as the severity of religious rejection to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.
Approximately 700,000 LGBTQ adults have undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives, according to a January 2018 UCLA study.
Another theme present in this film is women "falling into line." Kidman's character felt as though she could not speak up to her husband when he decided to send Jared to conversion therapy. Nancy is the only parent present throughout Jared's therapy and arguably afterwards; she observes his struggles and questions the authenticity of the program. The soft-spoken mother specifically has the biggest progression in this film and eventually takes a stand; something many parents in her situation take too long to do or never do.
This shocking, heart-warming, educational film is definitely worth seeing and most likely will end up with multiple nominations this upcoming awards season. Boy Erased will be released in theaters this Friday, Nov. 2nd.