Focus Features has always been a pioneer when it comes to telling LGBTQ stories through cinema. Focus Features created movies like “Brokeback Mountain” , “Milk,” and “Pariah.” They continue this trend of groundbreaking stories with their most recent picture “Boy Erased.”
“Boy Erased” is a movie based on the memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley. It tells the story of Jared Eamons, played by Lucas Hedges, the son of a Baptist preacher named Marshall Evans, played by Russell Crowe, who while at college is outed as gay to his parents. This news causes Jared’s father to send for religious leaders in the community where he comes to learn of a place called Love in Action.
Love in Action is a program in Memphis, Tennessee that claims to be able to “fix” gay people. Marshall then gives Jared a choice: he can either be disowned from his family or go to the program. The movie chronicles Jared’s time at Love in Action as he becomes more dissatisfied with the “therapy.”
During Jared’s time at Love in Action, he meets a variety of people such as Cameron, a football player portrayed by Britton Spear, and Victor Sykes, the man in charge of Love in Action played by Joel Edgerton.
The movie begins as Jared arrives at Love in Action, and the story of what led him there is shown through flashbacks.
Through witnessing acts of violence and the realization that the people in charge are not really trying to help their patients, Jared begins to understand that there’s nothing wrong with who he is and that he isn’t going to change.
Tackling themes such as sexual assault, homophobia, family, suicide, religion, sexism, and eventual acceptance, the movie has a cast packed with celebrities. Crowe does an amazing job bringing a Baptist preacher to life, and Nicole Kidman’s performance as Nancy Eamons, Jared’s mom, is sobering. Hedges performance is haunting.
Another cast member to notice is Joel Edgerton who is actually the director and the screenwriter. It’s not often that many screenwriters or directors get this involved, which shows that Edgerton was really invested in the project.
“Boy Erased” is very authentic not only because it is based on a true story, but also because of how realistic the movie seems. The interactions between the characters and Jared’s growth as a gay man feels true to life.
Another powerful aspect of the movie is when Marshall gives Jared only two options: to leave the family or to try to “fix what’s wrong” with him. This ultimatum captures the pressure many LGBTQ people experience from homophobic family members during the coming out process.
Artistically, the movie is beautifully haunting in the way it is filmed, and the flashbacks help the audience view the action from Jared’s perspective. Something that also helps tie the movie together is the soundtrack. There are many songs from out LGBTQ artists such as Troye Sivan’s “Good Side” and “Revelation.” Overall, “Boy Erased” is a movie that tackles issues that need to be brought to light in an authentic and heart-wrenching manner.
This movie will not only make you think but make you want to take action as well. As the credits roll, the audience finds out what happened to the real people and where they are now. It also ends with the chilling statistic that 700,000 LGBTQ Americans have been subjected to some sort of conversion therapy and that 32 states have yet to draft some legislation about this pseudo-science.
“Boy Erased” brings up an important conversation about the LGBTQ experience in America. This movie was not made only for Queer people. This movie was made for straight people who have the power to ensure conversion therapy stops for good.
“Boy Erased” not only sheds light on many LGBTQ American experiences but helps people understand the dangers associated with conversion therapy.