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Boy Erased

Based on a memoir, this is the story of 19-year-old Jared Eamons (played by Lucas Hedges) who spent time at Love in Action, a Christian-based gay conversion therapy camp. After being outed to his parents by an angry classmate, and rather than being rejected by his family, he chose to attend the camp. The film is the story of his experiences there and his relationship with his parents. I had rather mixed feelings about the film. The story is definitely compelling – these kinds of conversion camps are still legal in many states, and children under the age of 18 can be sent to them by their guardians. For these reasons, the film also was at times disturbing. I just never felt a connection to Hedges’ character. I felt emotionally detached from him, and we never get a really a solid understanding of the relationship with his parents and why he made the decision at 19 to attend the camp. The experience in the camp also did not feel entirely complete in its presentation. I think this may be partly the result of a screenplay that could have been better written. I also don’t think this is Hedges best role. But the acting overall is solid; Joel Edgerton, who also directed, plays a compelling facilitator at the camp. Nicole Kidman, who is a master actress, gives a star supporting performance as Jason’s mother. I also liked that the film did not treat the parents as “monsters” but tried to contextualize their individual struggles to understand their son. Thumbs up from me for a film that brings insight to an important issue. This is the second movie about these kinds of camps – the Miseducation of Cameron Post came out earlier this year. I think that one is the better film overall, but both are based on true stories and are worth seeing.

About Gary Burkholder

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