Australian writer, director and actor Joel Edgerton excels at those three disciplines with Boy Erased. His screenplay adapted from the real life memoir by Garrard Conley focuses on the controversial subject of conversion therapy. That Conley’s father was actually a man of the cloth only gives the story more impact.
The film energizes the viewer with a sense of outrage over the misguided attempt to cure their son’s homosexuality with the therapy while taking an even handed look at the hypocrisy of their religion, one based on forgiveness and love. Edgerton is masterful at balancing these opposites.
The father (Russell Crowe) mother (Nicole Kidman) and son (Lucas Hedges) form a loving family unit that is changed forever as the clash over religion and sexuality takes over their lives. The son has to endure horrible injustices in isolation as he is torn between his emerging sexuality and the rejection he feels by his father’s lack of acceptance.
It seems that the horrors of life in the clinic might have actually been downplayed as the absolute truth would have alienated the audience and created screen monsters. It’s not that kind of film. It’s one that is nuanced and more involving because of it. It tries its best not to make judgements and it derives it power from you completing the picture.