By Dylan Tracy
From the moment I saw the trailer for Boy Erased, I had a strong feeling in my gut that the film would be a stand out amongst every other film in theaters this year. Boy is one of the most powerful films of our generation, and will strike at every emotion. It teaches extremely valuable lessons of forgiveness, love, and of course self-acceptance that we all can relate to in some form or another. In our current climate filled with so much hatred and divisiveness, I believe this film could not have come at a more opportune point in time for our society.
Based on the memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley, Boy tells the story of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) who is forced to participate in a gay conversion program after he comes out to his parents. Jared’s mother (Nicole Kidman) accompanies him to attend the program, although completely unaware of what her son is going through. The film follows Jared’s personal struggles and triumphs with his sexuality, his personal identity, and his family.
Despite the main character, Jared’s, somewhat privileged upbringing, the film manages to strike a very strong emotional chord with audience members. There were moments the audience scoffed in bafflement, clapped in excitement and congratulations, and of course cried in pain and sympathy. It’s just about impossible not to react to this film in some form or another. With as many movies as I see in the theater, it definitely takes a special kind of film to elicit that kind of response from an audience.
With a powerful story must come a powerful cast, and they brought the power! Lucas Hedges delivers a performance that is sure to bring him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. The emotion and pain he shows on screen is so real and raw, it’s as if he had actually lived through the experiences onscreen himself. Nicole Kidman (need I say more?) is an absolute stand out in this film, transforming from a woman living in the shadow of her husband, to learning to stand on her own. Joel Edgerton, who directs and stars as the unofficial “villain” of the film, is incredible in his portrayal of such a twisted and damaged character. The actors portraying the characters in this film portrayed them very three-dimensionally, showing many different layers to their personality, adding to the depth and complexity of this film. It will be no surprise to me when Boy receives multiple Oscar nominations in January.
At the end of the film, an excerpt reads that 36 of the 50 states still allow conversion therapy to take place. After sitting through this film and seeing how much damage it causes these individuals, it’s baffling that such harmful “interventions” are still very much accepted in our society. No matter what your beliefs are, your age, your sexuality, your gender, this film is a must see. It is my hope that upon seeing it, audiences will leave the theater with slightly more compassion and empathy in their hearts, and a desire to make the world a more accepting place.