Boy Erased: Film Review

The issue of gay conversion therapy is certainly one that is important and timely which is probably why two films on the same topic have come out so close together. Luckily, Boy Erased is substantially different to The Miseducation of Cameron Post, but I liked the way the latter was told more.

The film follows Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of Baptist preacher Marshall (Russell Crowe) and hairdresser Nancy (Nicole Kidman), who has been outed by Henry (Joe Alwyn), a fellow college student. Jared confesses to his parents that he is attracted to men and is sent to Love In Action, a Christian gay conversion therapy program run by Victor (Joel Edgerton) which essentially aims to cure people of their homosexuality.

The performances are the best thing about Boy Erased. Hedges proved his capabilities in Manchester by the Sea, for which he was nominated for an Oscar at the age of 20. He achieved a Golden Globe nomination for this and that’s not much of a surprise – he is excellent. The performance is subtle and restrained for the most part, which means it’s more powerful when he really lets loose. I also want to give a shout out to Kidman, who packs a punch with a small part – she was incredibly moving in one scene in particular – while Crowe isn’t in it much but has an emotional impact right at the end.

In terms of the other supporting stars, Alwyn is showing real promise with his small roles in good films (like The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots) while Troye Sivan, who is best known as a singer, really surprised with his emotional depth and it was lovely to see Xavier Dolan doing some acting outside of his own projects.

Edgerton wrote and directed this from Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name and all the events are real and that makes it all the more moving. Cameron Post was a fictional tale (inspired by a true story) but it was played with a lighter touch, really leaning into how ridiculous the “pray the gay away” concept is, whereas Boy Erased is very, very serious and heavy-going. I was expecting to be emotional about it but it didn’t quite get me where it should have done and I don’t know why that is. I came away thinking it was good but nothing exceptional.

Edgerton has written a thought-provoking drama with an excellent screenplay and performances and enough differences between Cameron Post to justify its existence. It’s just a shame it didn’t hit home as hard as it could have done.

In selected cinemas Friday 8th February 

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