Edgerton, who also plays the tightly wound chief of the conversion-therapy organization here, wrings devastating performances from his cast, including Lucas Hedges as Garrard, and Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman as his parents.
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It’s a curiously underwhelming, muted, often plodding two hours that fails to reach the emotional highs and devastating lows one would expect from the material.
The Oscar-nominated Hedges is, as one would expect, superb in the title role, but performances across the board are excellent.
While Edgerton’s fractured approach has a frustrating way of compartmentalizing his characters into their own subplots, making it hard for the movie to convey the full sweep of its emotional journey, Boy Erased regards everyone with such raw empathy that even its most difficult moments are fraught with the possibility of forgiveness.
Boy Erased has problems depicting the fear, intimidation and psychological trauma such programs can inflict on even the most willing of participants. But that’s likely because, at its core, the film isn’t really about the gay conversion experience.
Edgerton shows an admirable sense of restraint, even when hitting all the usual beats. He includes moments of quiet introspection for the characters and the audience alike.
Joel Edgerton’s earnest, solidly made film will be most effective on, and maybe necessary for, those immediately suffering under the crush of anti-gay bigotry, and those perpetrating it.
It deserves praise not as a polemic but as a richly humanistic, emotionally searing drama that sticks in the memory.
Boy Erased is a poignant family drama that explores the importance of unconditional love and acceptance of oneself and each other. Edgerton solidifies his triple-threat status, artfully and intelligently crafting a film that resonates with viewers and facilitates much-needed conversation during these trying times.
Several emotionally attuned performances help paper over Boy Erased’s storytelling weaknesses.