Joel Edgerton displays a judicious prudence in his follow-up after the unpleasantly effective trappings of The Gift (2015).
Boy Erased stars Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea, Lady Bird), Russell Crowe, and Nicole Kidman, as well as the Aussie helmsman who’s been in films like Red Sparrow and Loving, among many others over the past two decades. But, still probably not that recognizable for many mainstream cineastes.
While Edgerton limits the dramatic potential in adapting Garrard Conley’s memoir of a troubling, if short period in gay conversion therapy his creation and execution leaves noteworthy emotional impact. As well as a production that indoctrinates with sterile claustrophobia.
Hedges’ late-teenage Jared is the only child of a car-dealing Arkansas Baptist pastor (Crowe) and his loyal wife (Kidman) who is remanded to Love In Action after a troubling incident. And, he’s not opposed to it wanting to appease a well-regarded, hard-working father.
In charge is the tough-love instructor Victor Sykes, a wound-up Edgerton, to establish ground rules when it comes to stuff like touching, crossing legs, and using the restrooms. Sykes links this condition to black marks in a family, like addictions and abortion, for example.
The flow of the tale is hampered to a degree as Jared is holed up with his mother at a nearby motel to keep up with his studies and follows the antecedent in explaining the path to this program. Once current situations take hold, Edgerton gravitates the weightiness of the enterprise.
In an often guarded, unspoken portrait, Hedges still endows Jared with a solid, viable arc, from the confusion and yearnings within makes sense in a reacting to an advertisement. Troye Sivan and Xavier Dolan, a pop crooner and director, respectively, are well-cast as just managing fellow attendees; also the tattooed musical artist known as Flea imparts a degree of cruelty as Sykes’ colleague. Crowe reveals the divisiveness of a man when it comes to beliefs and his blood, while Kidman is strong in relating the subservience and strength in struggling to understand herself as well as her son. Parents can be hard on their kids because of a deep abiding care and concern for them.
Naysayers will probably aver that Boy Erased just doesn’t rise above a television movie-of-the-week territory and certain characters don’t really seem to be “there” leaving a sense of detachment. Yet, Boy Erased expresses a righteousness through its characters that coalesces with its subdued nature. Right through the sobering end credit scroll that distressingly reinforces Bible-thumping and ignorance.