Jared, the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, is outed to his parents at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a gay conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith.
This is the second recent movie dealing with the abhorrent practice of gay conversion therapy. (The other movie was the very good THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST.) BOY ERASED is a lot more hard-hitting than that one. BOY ERASED is based on a memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley. It’s a powerful story and one that everyone should see if only to understand the pain and suffering that gay people experience by fundamentalist religious beliefs and attitudes against them.
The cast in this movie is outstanding. Lucas Hedges plays Jared with authenticity. Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman are excellent as the parents who struggle with the cognitive dissonance caused by their belief that homosexuality is a sinful choice against God and what their son is experiencing whom they love deeply. Joel Edgerton who wrote, directed, and acts in the role of the gay conversion therapist is powerful. He spent some time visiting an actual gay conversion therapy facility as part of his research for the film. The story is compelling and disturbing as we follow Jared through his horrific, heart-wrenching experience. Edgerton handles the material with empathy and respect without caricaturing any of the characters.
BOY ERASED is never preachy and presents the realities of gay conversion therapy (which is still being practised, often secretly) in a way that will surely resonate with those who have suffered anti-gay treatment. Hopefully, it will also speak to the consciences of those who perpetrate such inhumaneness. It’s a powerful story of unconditional love and acceptance that we all need to hear.