Boy Erased (2018)
Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), an Arkansas college student who is an avid runner and an aspiring writer, is also gay. Or rather, he is in the midst of figuring that out about himself — what it means, how he might act on it — when his panicked parents enroll him in a conversion therapy program designed to change, or at least suppress, his sexuality.
Adapted by Joel Edgerton from Garrard Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased is the second film Tampa Theatre has presented this year to tackle the subject of conversion therapy, a technique that is a mix of religious dogma and dubious science whose cruelty and ineffectiveness have been amply documented. Like The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Edgerton’s film tries to be more than a simple culture-war morality play, and succeeds thanks to Lucas Hedges’s performance as Jared and those of Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe as his parents, Nancy and Marshall Eamons. Marshall, who owns a growing Ford dealership, is also a Baptist minister, a kind and scholarly man who loves his son. So does Nancy, who drops her son off every morning at Love in Action, leaving him in the care — or at the mercy — of its director, Mr. Sykes, played by Edgerton. More directly than her husband, Nancy must struggle to reconcile protective parental instincts with what she sees as the demands of her faith. Anchored in empathy, Boy Erased shows that the road to destructive emotions and exile from your loved ones can also be paved with good intentions.