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Boy Erased (dir. Edgerton)

Image: Lucas Hedges and Théodore Pellerin in Boy Erased © Property of Focus Features [Source: IMDB]

★★★★☆

After his sexuality is forcibly outed to his parents. His Baptist father forces his son to undergo a church-supported, gay conversion therapy programme.

Director: Joel Edgerton. Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton [15]

Boy Erased tells this true story which may ring some bells by the end of the movie. With genuine and poignant performances. Which for me is where this movie excels greatest. Lance Hedges as the lead is, in a purely complimentary way – bordering on the uncanny valley of realism in his character. You can feel his struggle and suffering despite the fact that there is only one explosive show of emotion from the character. This is by far the movies greatest credit, despite the fact that you are not always emotionally enveloped with this character, you none the less empathise.

The most poignant of performance moments, however, come out of both Russel Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Yes, the big talent draws for mainstream audiences and they show their worth in two of the tenses scenes in the entire film. These scenes for me also exemplified the writing, not only is lots said in-between the lines both obviously and subtlety. But I found the allowing addition of complex point of views from these characters that censoring would have ground this film to a halt. It’s the lack of a big emotional pay off for the characters that I found more rewarding. The father battles his beliefs for the love of his son and the mother battles the love of her husband for her son, and none of it comes to a happy ending, even though the film shows otherwise imminently after. But that’s the true to life aspect rather than great dramatic storytelling.

Boy Erased does a great job of complementing the well-executed dramatisation with equally expressive and fascinating cinematography. It’s not garish but draws the eye easily and with purpose. It dramatises the real-life events greatly and gives them lots of subtle expression of the message of the film. The pacing does let it all down however. After the gripping first half, the rest of the film is like walking through mud and loses attention and engagement fast with little actually happening other than attending the programme and listen to the rambling speeches. Yes, it identifies how these programmes are which is the central message of the film, to stop them, but the drama doesn’t kick back in until we see the very worst of the actions of these programmes. Which gets the point across harrowingly.

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