There’s an old saying that’s quite popular the world over, more so in the US, which says, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Homosexuality is not a disease and as much as orthodox religious beliefs and people will vouch for a cure, the truth is, sexuality isn’t a problem, it’s a choice. Boy Erased is a film on this social and moral predicament. It’s based on a memoir by author Garrad Conley. A young boy is sent to a controversial program after his orthodox Christian family learns that he may be gay. Actor Joel Edgerton returns to direct a film that works on creating terror out of seemingly normal circumstances, where young boys and girls are subjected to an emotional ordeal at a facility that’s nothing short of a concentration camp. Backed by some powerful moments and solid performances, Boy Erased, tells a relevant and solid story, especially for those who have a perspective on the LGBTQI community. And for those not inclined towards sexuality, the film has some provoking thoughts about religion and the maxims attached to faith.
Jared’s father, Marshall is a preacher in the local church, while his mother is just as conservative about her Christian beliefs. Naturally, his parents are dealt a huge shock, when Jared comes out as gay. He’s swiftly dispatched to a conversion program where Victor Sykes and his dubious partners conduct a camp to cure children of their sexual deviancy. The scenes featuring a ‘geno-gram’ chart where kids are asked to label the sins of their immediate family members and the sequence where an introvert boy is literally beaten at a mock funeral of his homosexual alter-ego are deeply disturbing. The other, prominent aspect of the story deals with the way parents cope with their children’s sexuality. That’s where Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman’s characters come to the fore. While both seasoned actors give top-notch performances, the emotional bond or lack of it, between the parents and Jared, sort of hinder the film’s prospects, albeit briefly.
Young Lucas Hedges is good right through his role. He gets the confusion and the melancholy of the part bang on. Edgerton and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea, are most terrifying as the conversion program’s leads.
Edgerton’s direction is taut and effective during the tense senses at the facility where the silences feel eerie and the homophobia seems unnerving. It’s a pity that the scenes between the Conley family don’t have the same kind of impact. Nevertheless, Boy Erased, despite its inconsistency, Boy Erased tells a powerful story with finesse and the right amount of grit.