I know movies tend to embellish certain aspects of what happened when it is based on a true story. After all, drama is an important part of what makes a movie good, and sometimes it just needs to be cinematic. But a lot of times, the embellishment doesn’t take away from the movie because the story itself is so powerful. Boy Erased is one such movie.
This film is clearly a cautionary tale regarding a very heavy subject – gay conversion therapy. When college freshman Jared Eamons is outed as gay to his deeply conservative Baptist parents, he is given the choice to either move out of the house, or go to a conversion therapy program. In an attempt to not completely fall out of favor with his father, Jared decides to try the program.
What Jared finds is the fact that this program is not as positive of an exercise as it may have seemed. In fact, it is the exact opposite. To see what goes on at this program is frightening and difficult to watch. The people at the program go much farther than anyone might have imagined. It is difficult to watch because of how these people are treated.
This movie plays very much like a horror movie at times. When it is depicting what goes on at the program, the way it is shot is very creepy. The colors are dark and muted, the actions are in slow motion, and the music creates an eerie atmosphere. But this is all appropriate. We should be scared of what we are watching in these scenes.
Director Joel Edgerton purposefully crafts this whole story in a cautionary manner, while playing the character who is causing the most emotional harm. The way he acts opposite Lucas Hedges elevates both of their performances. Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman also give great performances as Jared’s parents.
It is important to remember that not all of these programs are like this, and not all Christians are this conservative or anti-homosexuality. But this is based on the memoir of a man who went through this. People and programs like this are out there and they are harmful. It’s really a shame that this film isn’t getting the mainstream attention it deserves. People – particularly some religious groups – should be made aware of what has happened and is still happening to over 700,000 people, as the movie claims.
Boy Erased is a movie that I might never watch again, but not because it isn’t good. It is very good and well made, but the subject matter is difficult to be exposed to. I just wish it got more attention than it has and will.