In a similar vein to Come As You Are, where actress Chloë Grace Moretz is sent to a therapy camp for teenagers after getting carried away with her nascent feelings for another girl, Boy Erased looks at the abject world of conversion therapy. Unlike Desiree Akhavan’s little jewel (accoladed at the Sundance Festival and just released in cinemas), that dissects the subject with candid intimacy, this new work by Australian director Joel Edgerton cut a more tragic angle. Jared, age 19, the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, is confronted with an ultimatum following his coming out: take the conversion therapy or be abandoned by his family, friends and faith forever.
Inspired by Garrard Conley’s memories in his autobiography Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith and Family, Joel Edgerton’s film tells the true story of a young man’s struggle to challenge all aspects of his identity. Assigned to the cruel routines of a sexual conversion program, the protagonist is subjected to training sessions in masculinity and beatings (in the cases of obstinate non-conformism). The endurance of grief, the affliction of regret, the hope for well-being… the film weighs up the causes and psychological consequences of these types of therapies.
Three years after The Gift, Joel Edgerton is back behind the camera after having shone in the spotlight alongside Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow. And to celebrate his return to directing, he’s assembled a 5-star cast that looks set to be polishing a slew of golden trophies come the awards season. In addition to the prolific Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, Boy Erased showcases the talents of the brilliant Lucas Hedges, already seen in Manchester By The Sea and Lady Bird. Canadian actor/director Xavier Dolan and the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea also star in the film, along with Australian pop star Troye Sivan who composed the original sound track in collaboration with Jónsi.
Expected in cinemas on November 21st, Boy Erased will undoubtedly render us as emotional as Felix Van Groeningen’s film starring Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy, also adapted from a biographical story (Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, by David Sheff) which looks at detoxification cures.