In Boy Erased, director and screenwriter Joel Edgerton tackles one of the most horrific outlets for the homophobia and bigotry against LGBTQ people that has gripped certain sectors of our society for years: the conversion therapy program in which men and women who are LGBTQ are subjected to extensive â€śretraining,â€ť through techniques ranging from religious instruction to outright physical brutality in order to allegedly restore them to heterosexuality.
Of course, this kind of â€śtreatmentâ€ť is not only nonsense but has been shown to be incredibly harmful to its victims: oneâ€™s sexual orientation is not a â€śchoiceâ€ť or a mental disorder but inherent to oneâ€™s very self and identity, and attempts to bury, twist, or distort that can lead to lasting psychological damage and even, in some tragic cases, suicide.
That is the backdrop against which Boy Erased–which was inspired by Garrard Conleyâ€™s memoir about his own experiences with the atrocities of conversion therapy–plays out. Lucas Hedges (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) plays Jared Eamons, son of Baptist pastor Marshall Eamons (Russell Crowe) and his wife Nancy (Nicole Kidman). Jared’s own suppressed sexuality comes to the fore when he goes away to college, although itâ€™s partially brought out as prelude to an ugly sexual assault, further muddying his already confused feelings.
Based on the book of the same name released in 2016