Boy Erased obsesses over how evil and wrong the ‘therapy’ is

With the UK release dates so impossibly close, it’s a tough task to not dream of The Miseducation Of Cameron Post whilst engrossed in the story of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) as he navigates the harsh reality of ‘gay conversion therapy’ in 1990’s Arkansas. Boy Erased is a far more dramatic, dark and disturbing take on the ‘therapy’ that is still carried out in many states today, becoming a harder hit and a tougher watch.

Jared is outed as gay to his parents by a fellow college student, ripped of his privacy and his option of choice. His Baptist preacher Father Marshall (Russell Crowe) and mild-mannered Mother Nancy (Nicole Kidman) take the news as devastation, heeding the advice of those from the church, sending Jared for ‘therapy’ to change his mindset and ‘fix’ his sins.

Very rarely does Boy Erased let up from its bombardment of tough themes and horrid imagery. There is a strong focus on the ‘therapy’ as opposed to those going through the experience, giving it a lesser human touch, feeling more like a factory or conveyor belt looking to churn out those who are ‘fixed.’ The Miseducation Of Cameron Post celebrates those who survive the ordeal, where as Boy Erased obsesses over how evil and wrong the ‘therapy’ is.

Boy Erased 2

That isn’t to suggest one film is correct over the other, but it gives an idea of the morbid nature Boy Erased takes up. It is a far more introverted film, and that shows through its production style just as it does in its overall outlook. It is less enjoyable, but it’s also far more affecting. This seems to stem from its strong ties to the original work by Garrard Conley of the same name. The source material is far more concentrated, rather than adopting a work of fiction loosely based on a separate case. Boy Erased has a clear story to respect, and that ultimately sets the tone.

Lucas Hedges plays Jared in a particularly touching manner. Often seeming moments away from opening up, revealing how he feels or what he needs to say, but stays within himself, hidden as the person he truly is. Naturally this builds to a head, but Hedges does that with respect and ultimately, vigor. He is supported affectingly by Kidman and Crowe, who round out a triangle of misunderstanding, uneducated ideals and denial. Kidman and Hedges form Boy Erased’s most memorable moments, and that is almost certainly no accident.

There is undeniable suffering from its closeness to The Miseducation Of Cameron Post, but that is okay. Both films appear respectable in their own right, and acts that sit as despicable as those in ‘gay conversion camps’ need all the publicity they can get to ensure their removal from modern day society. Especially when they are as engaging as both of these films are.

4/5

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