Sunday, July 21, 2019

Boy Erased: Sometimes Brutally Honest Film on an Important Topic

Movie Review: Boy Erased (2018)
Version: Library Blu-Ray borrow

Boy Erased features a fine cast (Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton) in a sometimes brutally honest memoir of a late-teen's experience with gay conversion therapy imposed by his willful dogmatic preacher-father. Includes a particularly savage rape scene, so this may not be a film for young viewers.

One of the positives about this film is that it doesn't resort to the typical gay stereotypes to portray the main character Jared's fellow therapy subjects. They come off as teens who happen to be gay and we can focus on their struggles instead of the often groan-able stereotypes. One of the negatives is that in not employing at least a couple of stereotypes is that the characters are one dimensional and in some ways seem unrealistic. Where the film may overplay its hand in use of stereotypes is in portraying the southern Baptist fundamentalists who run the therapy camp. In doing so, they risk making the characters look too dark, too evil, and too fit-to-form to be believable.

This is a memoir, so these characters may very well be as written, but all too often we get the feeling artist's license gives free rein to embellishment and the viewer's willful suspension of disbelief takes a hit. I got the feeling that was true here. Another nit was that most of the gay characters were male. There was one lesbian in the therapy class of a dozen or so boys. That seemed strange. Later, the lesbian was seen with a study group of other girls, presumably other lesbians at the center. None of this was addressed in the story. She seemed out place, didn't seem to have a real role.

It was a great story, well written and nicely paced. Definitely a social consciousness story that examined a lot of important sexual-orientation, parental-awareness, and religious-tolerance issues that didn't get bogged down in trying to play nice but focused on telling an important story.

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