As anyone who’s followed film in the last few years knows, you can’t talk awards season without mentioning Lucas Hedges – and that holds true again this year. With a filmography like his, including “Manchester by the Sea,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and “Lady Bird,” it’s safe to say “Boy Erased” has the potential to follow suit.
Based on a heartbreaking true story, “Boy Erased” follows Jared Eamons (Hedges), the son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe), as he’s forced to attend a disturbing gay conversion-therapy camp after coming out to his parents.
Outside of a fantastic outing from Hedges, Nicole Kidman delivers a powerful performance as Jared’s mother who finally sees the light and realizes with tremendous guilt what she’s forced her son to endure.
Unlike other films capable of balancing a cast of all-stars, “Boy Erased” couldn’t quite manage it’s star power, heavily underutilizing Crowe. When he’s on screen, he’s excellent, but unfortunately that isn’t often.
Joel Edgerton had his hands full, as the film’s writer, director and star, but his strongest contribution comes as an actor, portraying Victor Sykes, the horrific leader of the conversion camp.
As a director, some of Edgerton’s choices were questionable, particularly his decision to fracture the timeline of events. In a drama like this, it seems logical to follow a chronological path, but instead, Edgerton’s decision to go nonlinear keeps the film from picking up momentum and building tension along the way.
Despite its flaws, “Boy Erased” still manages to deliver a powerful look at the horrors of conversion-therapy through superb performances by Hedges and Kidman.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.