The term “gay conversion therapy” evokes thoughts of archaic rites dating back to a less enlightened era such as the 1950s. But, sadly, the practice continues today.
Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, the emotive Boy Erased stars Hedges as Jared, the son of devout Christian minister Marshall (Russell Crowe) and his supportive wife Nancy (Kidman). They can’t comprehend why their son is attracted to men, as they believe it is a choice.
Loving child that he is, Jared despises his own feelings and is prepared to do whatever it takes to regain his parents’ approval. At the Love in Action centre, “whatever it takes” includes pseudo-psychology about how to be a man and homework every night, even though Jared is perturbed by the spelling mistakes in the manual.
But when the conversion methods turn brutal and the “experts”, led by Victor (writer-director Joel Edgerton), try to convince him his sexual leanings are down to a hatred of his father, that’s a bridge too far for Jared to cross. Hedges, playing against titans Crowe and Kidman in their first film together, is mesmerising as the reserved, intelligent and compassionate protagonist. There are no villains in this family, just desperate love. And that’s what makes Boy Erased so wonderful. ￼￼￼￼￼