A fractured family is explored in compelling fashion in "Boy Erased," actor turned director Joel Edgerton's follow-up to "The Gift." Based on the memoirs of Garrard Conley, this is a film that tackles the tough questions about faith and sexual orientations in a thought-provoking and respectful manner.
It's a film that needs to be seen with a group and discussed afterward.
Conley's story is one all-too-familiar for many in the LGBT community - the son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) who is forced by his family to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program.
At first Conley (played by Lucas Hedges in a moving performance) is willing to go through the program and try to change. The more he sees from the program's director (Edgerton) and the more he discovers that in fact he is not the demon that director and his staff has made these participants out to be.
With the support of his mother (Nicole Kidman), Conley sets out to find himself and confront his dad - even if means he might lose him.
Edgerton, who also crafted the screenplay, has put together a strong, character driven moral tale where everything isn't always cut and dry.
Hedges brings Conley's inner-struggles to the big screen is compelling fashion - a young man torn between who he wants to be and who his family thinks he should be.
Kidman delivers as well, providing the film with a voice needed to convey the struggle between faith and love for your family. Her transformation is part of the power in "Boy Erased."
The scenes in the gay conversion program are tough to watch, with Edgerton deserving credit for playing such a vile character, but I feel like "Boy Erased" really soars in the second hour when the film takes more time to explore Conley's relationship with his mother and father.
Those moments are as powerful as any film in 2018, offering an honest and emotional glimpse into a family struggling to face a truth some may not want to face.