06th Dec2018

‘Boy Erased’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe, Madelyn Cline, Victor McCay, David Joseph Craig, Troye Sivan, Emily Hinkler, Devin Michael, Matt Burke, Lindsey Moser, Jesse LaTourette, Britton Sear, David Ditmore, William Ngo | Written and Directed by Joel Edgerton

boy-erased-poster

Jared Eamons, the son of a small-town Baptist pastor, must overcome the fallout after being outed as gay to his parents. His father and mother struggle to reconcile their love for their son with their beliefs. Fearing a loss of family, friends and community, Jared is pressured into attending a conversion therapy program. While there, Jared comes into conflict with its leader and begins his journey to finding his own voice and accepting his true self.

Director Joel Edgerton follows on from his thrilling and incredibly underseen directorial debut The Gift with Boy Erased, brought to the screen by Edgerton and based off of Garrard Conley’s book by the same name. A deeply disturbing and emotionally compelling piece that showcases the talent of both its director in terms of dictating a story via effective structure and the stunning performances from an outrageously talented cast in the likes of Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges, respectively.

Edgerton’s sophomore effort is a stunning piece on the depiction of haunting isolation and the neglect in honesty to yourself and trauma brought upon by others. Loving the ones closest to you in friends and family with the principle of self-acceptance. Exploring the utterly devastating severity of neglect and oppression of sexuality by the church. The nightmarish tale is just that. It is as thrilling as it is haunting in terms of watching such a brutal event occur. To see such a terrifying real-life experience develop and be left deeply shocked while an excessive albeit invisible trauma begins to swell and infect the lives of innocent people who are brainwashed in thinking they’re their for themselves and not for the people are adamant they care about them. Every sequence that follows on from each other slowly evolves from subtle damage to tragically expressive and devastating blows of horror via verbal and physical trauma. The latter in moments that are so difficult to watch and shake off after the viewing, it only reinforces the truly terrifying situation Garrard and others like him experience and still to this day live through, which is stated in a tragic closing line that is simply devastating.

The performances here are simply incredible. Nicole Kidman puts forth a performance that may perhaps be her magnum opus and undoubtedly one that may make roads of another Academy Award nomination. The sheer range and emotional depth Kidman showcases in what is at the surface level a simplistic and restraint role of a docile housewife. Is a clever juxtaposition of sorts with genre convention, as the film progresses and the character gains more insight into her son’s life her character erupts in empowerment in an emotional volcano with a fiery retort against the restraints put on her by her family and faith. A testament to the powerful depth Kidman has as an actress, as to be fair to Edgerton, the script while filled with animosity, is light on fundamental depth, of which Kidman grapples with perfectly with a resounding level of craft.

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