Well-bal­anced Boy

Geelong Advertiser - - MOVIES - BOY ERASED Star­ring: LEIGH PAATSCH

Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kid­man, Joel Edger­ton Dis­avow or dis­ap­pear A FAS­CI­NAT­ING and well­made drama, Boy Erased fo­cuses on the prac­tice of con­ver­sion ther­apy, in which ho­mo­sex­ual youth are shipped off to re­hab fa­cil­i­ties to “pray the gay away”.

Work­ing in writer-di­rec­tor mode, Aus­tralian ac­tor Joel Edger­ton tack­les this hot­but­ton topic with im­pres­sive lev­els of tact, sen­si­tiv­ity and bal­anced in­sight.

The true story told is based on the mem­oirs of Gar­rard Con­ley (played by Lucas Hedges un­der the char­ac­ter name of Jared Ea­mons), the gay son of a Bap­tist preacher who was trans­ferred to a con­ver­sion clinic in his first year in col­lege.

Rather than adopt a strictly melo­dra­matic ap­proach that may have sen­sa­tion­alised this ma­te­rial — or ren­dered it too archly provoca­tive — the screen­play makes a wel­come and con­certed ef­fort to fol­low Jared’s plight from all sides.

In par­tic­u­lar, the line of think­ing that brought Jared’s lov­ing, de­voutly re­li­gious par­ents Mar­shall (Russell Crowe in im­pos­ing form) and Nancy (Nicole Kid­man, also to the fore) to ar­rive at such a dras­tic de­ci­sion is out­lined clearly and sym­pa­thet­i­cally.

Mar­shall and Nancy are not de­monised. Like so many peo­ple, they were do­ing what they thought was right, based on what coun­sel was avail­able to them at the time.

Edger­ton also stars as Vic­tor Sykes, the tightly wound head of the clinic whose mis­guided mis­sion in life is to “make real men” of those who are sup­pos­edly any­thing but in God’s eyes.

The scenes that de­pict life be­hind the se­cre­tive walls are not so much har­row­ing as they are sad­den­ing.

Jared’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to be lis­tened to and heard causes fric­tion with the du­bi­ously qual­i­fied Sykes and his team, who are de­ter­mined to ap­ply their one-size-fits-all “cure”.

Jared Ea­mons (Lucas Hedges) and mother Nancy (Nicole Kid­man).

LOV­ING MUM: Nicole Kid­man stars with Russell Crowe as de­voutly re­li­gious par­ents Mar­shall and Nancy in Boy Erased..

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