Must-see film is painful

A scene from Boy Erased.

Boy Erased

Starring: Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman

When it comes to writing a drama film, one question that comes up is how to evoke strong emotions from the audience.

Another question that should be asked is exactly how much emotion the film should seek from its audience.

In ‘Boy Erased’, based on a memoir by Garrard Conley, Lucas Hedges plays a gay teenage son of a pastor (Russell Crowe) who, when outed as gay, is taken by his mother (Nicole Kidman) to gay conversion therapy.

There he struggles to keep faith in the therapy’s legitimacy as the cruelty and untrustworthiness of the ‘counsellors’ becomes clearer.

The acting is excellent. Hedges’ performance showcases the character’s anger and frustration in a way that makes an initially boring character more interesting as the film goes on.

Kidman’s character is surprisingly likeable given her role in her son’s misery and she maintains a Southern charm throughout.

Crowe’s transformation into his character is impressive and he succeeds in making the character both detestable and sympathetic.

The cinematography is fairly standard, though colours are used well to set the mood, with white used to highlight the fake, sterile atmosphere of the conversion group.

‘Boy Erased’ is an important film about a hot-button issue, as touching as it is brutal. It induces sympathy and rage towards its characters, though perhaps too much.

If you’re suffering from mental trauma related to conversion therapy, homophobia or rape, this will certainly not alleviate it.

This is the kind of film you want to end just to stop the emotional suffering, not helped by the slow pacing, and yet, when you think you’re finally free, the intensity sticks with you long after the film ends.

This is a film you have to see once, but not a film you need to see twice.

– Claire Sanderson

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