Jungle
Boy Erased

Boy Erased

Movie
Director(s): 
Genre: 
In Theatres: 
Nov 09, 2018
Grade:
C+
Running Time: 
114 minutes

There’s a lot going on in Boy Erased. Based on a true story, the film is about a young man who is struggling with his identity and his family’s acceptance as he is sent away to a conversion therapy program. It’s a film that spends its time juggling multiple threads, with most of its effort spent making sure none of the balls are dropped. It’s a good film that has the start of some great ideas but doesn’t quite push them over the edge into being spectacular.

 

Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) grew up in what would seem like the perfect family. The son of a Baptist preacher and highly successful car dealer (Russell Crowe), Jared excelled at school and in sports and was well liked by practically everyone in the community. While at college, he discovers that he is attracted to men, something he knew about himself for a long time but had pushed his feelings deep down within, and when his secret gets out at home he is sent to a homosexual conversion therapy program. Therapist Victor Sykes’ (Joel Edgerton) methods are controversial but he’ll do what it takes to mold the kids who attend his program into the kind of people he wants. Jared, on the other hand, finally starts to see and accept who he really is.

 

Boy Erased is driven primarily by the performances of Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe, and especially Nicole Kidman, who plays Jared’s mother Nancy. While Hedges delivers a convincing enough performance as Jared, it’s Kidman who’s often the one that delivers the emotional gutpunch. She’s the one who changes the most throughout the film, going from a mother who doesn’t necessarily agree with her husband, but is still complicit in sending Jared away to this program, to someone who accepts her son for his true self. Boy Erased is a film that screams ‘awards season’ on paper, but Kidman ends up being the only noteworthy contender.

 

It’s not that Boy Erased is bad, either; it’s actually quite good. The film just doesn’t have that extra something that pushes the quality to the next level. There are lots of little moments, the film jumps around from Jared’s time at the program to multiple important life events leading up to it, but there was never that one defining moment with Jared that really makes you think about just how horrible these conversion therapy programs are. There’s just a lot going on, and nothing in particular stands out above the rest.

 

Boy Erased is a valiant sophomoric effort from director and star Joel Edgerton but it just doesn’t quite have that emotional impact one would expect from a drama dealing with this type of subject matter. All of the performances are good, with Nicole Kidman standing out more so than the others, and the film has the workings of something special. It just never manages to get to that point.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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