Boy Erased (2018)

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Food: I recently went to The Flower Shop in the Lower East Side during their weekly trivia night (Tuesdays), where I ordered the mushrooms escabeche on toast – which comes with hazelnut and aioli. It was delicious, but it comes in too small a portion for the price. After that, I ordered the Wakame seaweed salad grain bowl with avocado, cucumber, radishes and rose harissa. It was tasty and filling.

Film: “Boy Erased” (2018) is a heartfelt look at the gay conversion therapy facilities that are run by the religious community and is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name. Another film featuring anti-gay religious camp was made the same year called “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” which takes a lighter, more comedic approach.

The film starts with delightfully refashioned actual home videos of a young Lucas Hedges who plays Jared Eamons, the son of a small town Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) and a loving mother (Nicole Kidman). Eamons shocks his parents when he decides to confide in them about the fact that he is gay, despite that he knows it goes against their religious beliefs. The struggling parents wish to “pray away” the temptation and eventually send their teenager to a conversion therapy camp which is led by Victor Sykes (played by Joel Edgerton who also directed the film).

Hedges carries the performance with sincerity and depth as a young man struggling to understand his faith and his feelings. Naive and hopeful, Jared enters the camp and only after he is there does he realize that he will be there indefinitely on the basis of Sykes’s assessment of him. The practices at the camp become increasingly sinister and Hedges superbly portrays the growing frustration and desperation with nuance.

It is a fairly predictable story, but ultimately serves to shed light on the fact that homophobia is grounded often in fear and insecurity. It is powerful and important, showcases a slew of excellent performances including the smaller parts with Troye Sivan and Joe Alwyn, and will entertain. Ultimately, though, a bit forgettable after viewing.

 

 

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