Boy Erased not only shines a light on intolerance, it’s a moving portrait of a family struggling to understand each other.
Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton
November 9th, 2018
Joel Edgerton's Boy Erased is a movie about change, but not only in the way you’re expecting. Yes, it’s based on a shocking true story about a young man sent to a gay conversion camp by his religious family; but it’s also a nuanced study of a family forced to challenge their beliefs in an effort to stay together.
Lucas Hedges as the Son, a Catalyst for Change
Hedges plays Jared Eamons, a 19-year-old college student struggling with his sexuality that’s at odds with his family’s religious beliefs. This role is based on the real-life experiences of Garrard Conley, who documented this story in his best-selling book by the same name. Initially confused, Jared dutifully attends the conversion camp to appease his Baptist father but quickly sees through the extreme measures the camp is taking to manipulate young men and women. Hedges masters the role of Jared, who risks losing his family over what he knows to be true about himself — all while enduring physical and emotional abuse under the horrific leadership of camp therapist Victor Sykes (played by director Joel Edgerton).
Russell Crowe as the Father, Steadfast in his Beliefs
At the centre of the conflict in Boy, Erased is Jared’s father, Marshall Eamons, a car-salesman and Baptist pastor played by Russell Crowe in one of his best dramatic performances. It’s Marshall who struggles the most with his son’s sexuality. Although he thinks he’s doing the right thing by sending his son to conversion therapy, his strictness quickly ventures into cruelty. It's painful to watch this father ice out his son, forcing him into an untenable situation but Crowe tempers his performance so Marshall never comes across as evil, just complicated.
Nicole Kidman as the Mother at a Crossroads
Academy Award Winner Nicole Kidman plays Nancy Eamons, the dutiful wife who chaperones her son to conversion therapy. Nancy never wavers in her love for Jared, and Kidman’s performance brings a brightness to this murky situation. However, she’s slow to understand that the camp might not be the best thing for him (or anyone). Nancy is the bridge to change for this family if she can discover the courage within herself to defend Jared.
Writer Conley endured a similar horrific experience, and he’s not alone. Conversion camps are still active around the world but his powerful story has helped incite change — here’s hoping this film does too.
This is a must-see for anyone who has fought for love
The world always needs more films that champion the pursuit of love and understanding, while pointing out injustices in our society. Though the subject matter is tough, this a film that will leave you feeling empowered and hopeful.