Jared (Lucas Hedges) belongs to a loving middle-class Arkansas family, with his mother, Nancy (Nicole Kidman) and Baptist minister father, Marshall (Russell Crowe). Jared gets good grades, plays basketball, and is in a steady—but chaste—relationship with a girl from school. Everything in his life is going according to plan, until a college friend outs Jared as gay.
Surprised, but attempting to be supportive in their own way, Jared’s parents send him to Refuge, a church-supported program predicated on the notion that homosexuality is an affliction, curable through confession, and the reinforcement of gender stereotypes. Overseen by Victor Sykes (played by the film’s director Joel Edgerton, in a superbly cagey performance), the program’s bullying and bigotry fosters an environment that’s anything but a refuge.
BOY ERASED, which is based on Garrard Conley’s eponymous memoir, doesn’t take potshots at religious conservatives. Bolstered by uniformly superlative performances—including memorable supporting turns from Flea and Xavier Dolan—the film considers what it means to reconcile one’s upbringing with one’s own self-respect and moral truths.
“BOY ERASED is a good movie and also an important one, one that might save lives if enough young people find their way to it. Likewise, it’s hoped that adults who chose to enter ‘treatment’ on their own will get the message that self-acceptance is what matters. They don’t need to change. It is the world around them that must.” —Sasha Stone, The Wrap “BOY ERASED is neither the first, nor the best, of this year’s films about the crucible of gay conversion therapy, but Joel Edgerton’s adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir is most interesting for the ways that it differs from THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST. Although it’s fortunate we have both, and tragic that we need either…BOY ERASED uses a similar premise to deflect that burden outward—to put the onus for change and understanding on the misguided people who surround its traumatized young protagonist.” —David Ehrlich, IndieWire
Go see Boy Erased at The Belcourt in Nashville.