Boy Erased Review

Fashion designers are busily bulk buying the most garish and expensive materials their cigarette stained fingers can get their hands on.

Alt-right fucktards are working themselves into a frothing frenzy over potential acceptance speeches from a bunch of leftie luvvies from the safety of their parents’ basements.

And Warren Beatty’s wakes up in a cold sweat as he contemplates over opening his morning mail… this can mean only one thing – awards season is upon us again.

One of the less celebrated features of the second most wonderful time of the year is the almost clandestine release of worth films in February whose academy award winning dreams have long since been shattered… and this is sadly where Boy Erased fits in.

Jared Eamons is the son of passionate Tennessee clergyman Marshall – who doubles up as a used car salesman, I kid you not – and dutiful housewife Nancy.

Jared’s life seems pretty idyllic – he’s got a comfortable home life (have you ever heard of a ‘poor’ priest?), he plays for his high school basketball team and he’s dating a cheerleader who has chosen to take her ‘be aggressive’ cheer to heart when it comes to losing her virginity.

Whichever way you look at it, Jared’s glass is more than half full… so why is he so unhappy?

The answer is all too obvious, but unfortunately any solution isn’t nearly so black and white – especially when you’re embedded in the very heartland of bible belt america.

Unable to accept his own son’s sexuality, Marshall arranges for Jared to attend one of those now infamous conversion centres good christian american folk seem to love so much to learn how to repress his true nature.

You can probably guess how well that works out.

Based on the life of Garrard Conley and his memoir of the same name, Boy Erased is directed by and stars Joel Edgerton – who’s also enlisted a couple more ‘a’ list Australians in to get in front of the camera with him.

With subject matter that’s guaranteed oscar bait and a cast featuring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, you can see that Boy Erased was originally conceived as a contender for awards glory – unfortunately, this attitude seems to have bled into the entire production.

So even though everything looks great, performances are strong and some individual scenes are moving – particularly between Kidman, Crowe and Lucas Hedges as Jared – these elements almost seem to exist in isolation from each other.

What we’re left with is Film’s Purpose Erased, as notions of informing or entertaining an audience get waylaid in favour of putting together a show-reel for some imagined Oscar nomination one of your film’s leading lights is so desperately hoping for.

Which is a shame, as Conley’s story seems worthy of a wider audience.

But when a film like Boy Erased is released in early February, the writing’s on the wall.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

February 2019