I thought BOY ERASED would have more of an impact on me emotionally than it did. It is still a harrowing tale of Garrard Conley (Jared Eamons in the movie), who came out as gay to his parents, his father being a baptist preacher, and in response his father sends him to a conversion camp, whose very controversial methods of trying to “sweep the gay away” caused Garrard to write a memoir of his experience. Gay conversion camps are just awful in general. I personally believe that a person being gay is biological, and not a choice, and that homosexuals have just the same right and opportunities as heterosexuals, etc. etc. etc. aka “the correct and moral view” on the issue. I fully support the LGTB group and their constant fight around the world with right and acceptance. And again, while I think Gay conversion camps are awful in general and should be completely abandoned or destroyed, the trailer in the movie seem to me like that they would be much much worse than they actually are, and now I want to read Garrard’s memoir to see if the movie took out some things for being “too extreme,” even though this film is rated R. Still, it’s a good movie with a good message, and some fantastic performances by Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman. I was expected to be sobbing or at least tearing up by the end of the film, but I didn’t even have a lump in my throat.
I almost had one between the conversations between Nicole Kidman’s character and her son. Those were very well done. To be honest the person I had a huge problem with in this would be Russell Crowe as the Baptist dad. I know I’m pretty beefy myself, but what the fuck happened to him? Not just physical appearance but acting ability as well? He plays the role a bit too over the top with a southern Baptist accent that sounded really really ham-fisted and fake. Maybe that was the point? I didn’t care for it, makes him more of a fictional character than an actual person he is supposed to be portraying. It’s as though he got the call on the phone, offering him the role (if you read interviews and articles about Crowe, he doesn’t audition for films anymore, he’s offered them, and will just say yes or no to a movie), he got up off the couch eating his cheesy poofs, and thought he was ready to be fightin’ around the world again. When to me, he just shrugged and completely phoned in his performance. Thankfully he’s only in the film about 10 to 15 minutes total so it was tolerable enough. Nicole Kidman plays an actual person/character in this, with layers that are slowly revealed throughout the course of the film, only hinted at the beginning, of what she truly thinks of her son as being homosexual. Joel Edgerton (who also wrote and directed this) plays Victor Sykes, the gay conversion camp head honcho/counselor, and he does it so well that you literally want to punch him in the face very single time he is on screen.
But the real star is Lucas Hedges (who was nominated a couple of years ago for Supporting for Manchester By The Sea). His very silent and reserved performance that includes being his own ticking time bomb of acceptance is absolutely exhilarating. He completely knocks it out of the partk (he was also one of the few good parts in Mid80s a couple of week back), and I heard he won’t even be nominated this year for it, but instead for Ben Is Back, which comes out into theaters in a couple of weeks. If he is that good in this and he is getting Oscar buzz for that, this is going to be one hell of a performance. His speeches to his mother and father near the end of the film almost got that lump in my throat that I was expecting. The only reason why I didn’t is because the films went back and forth in time again infrequent like the recent Beautiful Boy (same problem I had with that movie too in regards to having it pack an emotional punch for me). I think the film would’ve had more of a focus if everything was in a linear fashion. I’m blaming it for the conversion camp scenes not hitting hard like they were supposed to, as these flashbacks interrupted the flow of the terrible things it was doing to teenagers there.
But the movie is still decent and worth a watch. Almost exactly like Beautiful Boy. Both have its story structure problems which kill its emotional impact at the end, but the performances (except for Crowe) and messages still come across very well. When will Hollywood learn we don’t need things like Pulp Fiction all the time? Sometimes a linear, straight forward story has more of an impact that trying to do something that the director thinks is artistically unique, when in actuality it’s been done way too much for way too long, where something straight now comes off as fucking brilliant? Here’s hoping that films start having a little bit more straight focus soon.