Boy Erased (2018)

I was very looking forward to seeing Boy Erased as it deals with a very difficult and important subject and has many good actors —Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, Joel Edgerton, who is also directing, and Russell Crowe. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointment.

Based on Garrard Conley's memoir of the same name, the story follows Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) and a religious woman (Nicole Kidman) in Arkansas. When he comes out as gay, his parents send him to a church-supported gay conversion camp to cure him of his homosexuality.

This is arguably an important story that needed to be told as people need to be aware of the existence of these camps and what people had to go through because of them —sadly, some people still firmly believe you can cure homosexuality with therapy. The problem with Boy Erased is that the storytelling, although non-linear which should make things more interesting, is dull and not so compelling. In addition, Edgerton doesn't do an excellent job at capturing the horrors of those places —they don't look that bad at times— and the over-dramatization gives you the impression of an Oscar-bait movie.

The characters are a hit and miss too. While Lucas Hedges gives a nice performance as Jared, capturing to perfection the young man's bewilderment but struggling a lot when it comes to delivering the sexual conflict within him —the performance falls a bit flat because of this—, the character of Jared isn't particularly interesting. Actually, he couldn't be any more uninteresting. The father, although he doesn't have a lot of depth nor development and Crowe's performance is forgettable to say the least, is by far a more interesting character. The mother, on the other hand, is compelling as she is the only character that shows some growth —while at the beginning, she hardly does anything to protect her son from her husband, at the end she finally fights for her son and shows how much she loves him, no matter what— and Nicole Kidman's performance is quite extraordinary, especially when it comes to delivering the inner struggle of a woman torn between her husband and her son.

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As I mentioned above, Joel Edgerton's direction fails to deliver the horrors of conversion camps, but at least he handles the heavy topic with sensitivity, in a respectful manner. And yet, he failed at making me feel anything, which left me speechless considering the subject. The cinematography is also quite dull and mute, and the score often feels inappropriate and manipulative.

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