Occasionally, a film with a crucially important message will come out, and Boy Erased is for sure one of those. This film is based on a book of the same name that tells Gerrard Conley’s story of when he was sent to gay conversion therapy. Conley’s story, unfortunately, is like many others who have been through this torturous ordeal, but he has turned it into something positive by telling his story. This film adaptation is for sure a powerful journey and one that I suggest everyone take.
The positives for this film are many, but the most prominent for me is the stellar performances given by the cast. The cast includes Hollywood heavyweights like: Nicole Kidman, Russel Crowe, and Joel Edgerton (who also directs). Also, there are some lovely newcomers like Lucas Hedges and Troye Sivan. The performances given provide so much depth for the characters involved. Not only is the acting top notch, but the chemistry between Hedges and Kidman is so powerful, which enhances the story and its message.
The writing is also very good, it doesn’t try to “play it safe”, by really laying it all out there. There are two things in particular that are very jarring and kind of tough to watch, but so well done and important to the overall story. Just from the trailer for this film, you can tell that there will be a lot of heartbreaking moments and what I love about those scenes is how raw and realistic they are. The details in a story such as this must be handled in a brave, graphic fashion in order to elicit the proper response from the audience.
The score is also really well done. The main song in the film is sung by Troye Sivan, who has such a wonderful voice. It is great to see him shine both as a singer and an actor.
Something else that I thought was both smart and accurate of the filmmakers was the way in which they portrayed every character. This film does not villainize characters for being conservative or religious. Instead, it tells a true story and gives a very raw look at these parents who didn’t really know any better and thought they were doing right by their son. It’s truly beautiful to see every character’s progression and growth as the truth unravels. The character’s journey is about self acceptance and comfortability, whereas the parents’ journeys are about loving their son not for who they think he should be, but for who he is. Both of these journey/arcs have a shared theme of acceptance and love, which is why it’s such a profound thing to behold.
I realize that some may not be interested in a film with such tough subject matter and may prefer pure popcorn entertainment, but I strongly suggest that everyone see this film. Boy Erased tackles a subject that it so pressing in a realistic raw way and the result is a truly moving true story uplifted by incredible performances.
Now I don’t want to sound too preachy here, but I just want to end this review by sending a very clear message of love and solidarity to LGBTQ+ youth. That message is: you’re heard, you’re beautiful, you deserve all the love in the world and if you don’t feel that you’re loved, please don’t give up, because you’re valuable and it gets better. This is for sure one of my top films of the year, and we’re all better off because of brave people like Gerrard Conley telling their heart wrenching stories.