Tony's Take

BOY ERASED review

The Truth Cannot Be Converted

“Boy Erased” is a harrowingly-brutal and honest true story, following the life of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) and his family in Arkansas.  Jared is a young boy, about to graduate high school and attend his dream college.  The son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) and his wife (Nicole Kidman), Jared lives to make them proud.  At college, he begins to experience strange thoughts and urges and one night, after forming a friendship with his roommate, he acts on those urges and is met with an intense, emotionally-breaking encounter that will change his life forever.  While the details come out and his parents learn of them, they force Jared to attend a Conversion Camp; one they hope will deter his homosexual thought and desires and bring him back-into God’s light.

Led by Pastor Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), the Refuge Program seeks to expel the demons and put people back on the path of righteousness.  Alongside Brandon (Flea), the pair use powerful, insulting methods to change the way these people are.  While this may, at times, be to the extreme, “Boy Erased” will undoubtedly bring out many more stories of hardship and controversy from similar conversion therapy programs.  The rest of the film follows Jared, and the rest of the “patients”, as they must struggle to determine who they are and who they want to be.  And while religion is at the forefront of the film and its message, the question is never about if they feel loved by God, but more so if they feel loved by anyone else.

I was moved by “Boy Erased” is a way that films rarely cause these days; Edgerton’s direction and vision provide us with one of the most moving cinematic experiences of 2018.  A truly impressive cast, led-by Hedges, bring this story to life and breathe the heart and soul into each and every scene.  Hedges continues to prove that is one of the very best of his generation (He and Timothée Chalamet are 1a and 1b in my book) and he surely is destined for another trip to the Academy Awards and every other awards show; you can truly feel his raw emotion with each line of dialog and gesture.  Crowe is a superb choice as his confused father and Kidman gives her best performance in years as a concerned, confused mother.  The supporting cast is constructed of various personalities and they too add a certain level of authenticity to the film, each one carrying their own individual scene.  You feel the anger, the hate, the disappointment that is embodies in each of these characters.  You don’t pretend to understand, but you find yourself overcome with emotion and hopeful of a peaceful conclusion.  At 114 minutes, the film carries a constant pace and never lets-go as it wages war against morality and religion.

While this may not be the “happy” film of the season, “Boy Erased” is a beautifully-intense, heartbreaking (true) story about one boy’s constant struggle and the atrocities of conversion therapy; that only those who have endured them can share.  Featuring a handful of knockout performances, this movie is not to be missed!

 4/5

BOY ERASED is rated R for sexual content including an assault, some language and brief drug use, in theaters NOVEMBER 16TH!

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