It’s a tough pill to swallow that there are people who don’t accept and respect others for who they are – gender, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc; it shouldn’t matter. Boy Erased highlights this reality in telling the true story about a young boy, played by Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), who comes out to his ultra religious parents, played by Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator), and is thus sent to a gay conversion program. To know that a young boy has the courage to come out to the people he feels safest with, and ends up being punished both emotionally and physically is painful to see. Writer and first time director Joel Edgerton (Loving), who also plays the brutal program leader, exposes this horrible reality to mainstream audiences, hopefully waking us the F up.
For never having directed a film, Edgerton really knows how to pull on our heartstrings. His slow, methodical camera work honed in on each character, forcing you to feel their pain. The score and beautiful original song, Revelation, will only throw your emotions further into overdrive. Edgerton’s message is clear as day: conversion therapy is nothing shy of disgraceful. Yet Edgerton carefully wrote the parent’s characters, whose religious beliefs are the driving force behind their harmful choices, with consideration and understanding, rather than full on shaming them. An admirable choice and one that didn’t go unnoticed. His thoughtful work in every area of this film will undoubtedly make a huge impact on audiences!
Bottom line: Sitting in a room full of strangers crying their eyes out is heartbreaking, and while it was obvious it was going to be based on the trailer alone, there’s no way to prepare for this emotional rollercoaster. But don’t be afraid to see Boy Erased – it’s a must-see not only for the beyond moving, award worthy performances, but also because it’s imperative to learn about this widespread method many families turn to as their “gay cure” …simply so wrong. An estimated 700,000 LGBT Americans and counting have undergone this therapy and a significant amount have sadly committed suicide thereafter. Shockingly, only 14 states have banned the practice, but it’s films like these that build more awareness and with any lucky, will help ban this for good.