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..