Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Peter T Chattaway

Boy Erased

Recommended Posts

Joel Edgerton To Direct, Lucas Hedges To Star In Gay Deprogram Drama ‘Boy Erased’
EXCLUSIVE: Multiple distributors are bidding for Boy Erased, a provocative drama Joel Edgerton has scripted and will direct based on the memoir by Garrard Conley. Edgerton will star with Manchester By The Sea‘s Lucas Hedges, and Edgerton is courting Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman for supporting roles, I’m told. . . .
Edgerton, who wrote and produced the 2015 sleeper hit The Gift, has adapted the 2016 Garrard memoir of his harrowing time attending Love in Action, an entity that attempts to deprogram LGBT people. The son of a Baptist pastor in a conservative small Arkansas town, Conley was outed to his parents at age 19. Conley was faced with attending a church-supported conversion therapy program that purports to “cure” homosexuality. The alternative was to risk losing his family, friends and his religion. He entered the program, but instead of emerging from the brutal Twelve-Step Program as heterosexual, he left with the strength to embrace his true identity. The drama covers the difficulty of coming of age as a gay person in a conservative community, and the struggles that can occur when one tries to suppress that sexual identity. Hedges, who broke out in the Oscar-nominated Manchester By The Sea, will play the protagonist, and Edgerton will play the man who runs the therapy program. Edgerton, Crowe and Kidman have long talked about doing a film together, and he wants them to play Conley’s parents. . . .
Deadline.com, June 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was an excellent read (or listen, actually).  I hope the film does it right; for its theme, it was surprisingly un-bitter and understated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, here's our thread on the other 2018 movie dealing with so-called reparative therapy, The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This film played at Filmfest 919 and it wrecked me emotionally. Because Jerad is shown as an initially willing (albeit coerced) and eager (because of coercion) participant, the film ends up being more of an indictment of the culture that spawns such machinery rather than the individual program itself. That said, the film is also honest about some Christians honestly wrestling with the issues and taking accountability for their own actions. (It's probably not as sympathetic as the dad in Gigi Gorgeous: This is Everything, but it is remarkably even-handed in its representation of Jerad's family. 

There is plenty here to critique even if one is committed to the belief that the Bible teaches homosexuality as a sin. (I am, myself, conflicted about that proposition, though I'd hate for the film to be reduced to a platform for arguing about that...surely Christians can (or should?) be able to acknowledge that some things are wrong regardless of who they are done to.

My review:


https://1morefilmblog.com/2018/10/05/boy-erased-edgerton-2018/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Huh. I caught the film at VIFF and was struck by how *not* engaged I was emotionally (particularly given my own wrestling with this stuff in my early 20s).

*** SPOILERS ON ***

It felt to me like the film was consciously *not* exploring some things that it *could* have explored. Like, we don't get any real hint that the main character is gay until *after* he has been raped by a friend at college. That's a brave narrative choice in and of itself, but to what extent did the rape affect, or crystallize, or whatever the character's sexuality? This isn't really addressed, that I can recall; instead, afterwards, it's just asserted and assumed that he has *always* been gay, and that's that. (And he never discusses the rape with anyone else, so none of the other characters ever have a chance to raise the sort of question that I'm raising here.) Similarly, the film never expressed any curiosity about the Joel Edgerton character who *leads* the "gay conversion therapy" program, and what it was that led him to that sort of ministry -- and I was willing to go with that limited perspective, because I assumed the film was trying to look at him the way the main character would have presumably looked at him. (In recent years, I have learned a number of things about the pastors of my youth that make me wonder how I ever accepted their leadership so blindly.) But then the closing credits tell us something about the Edgerton character -- or, more precisely I think, the real-life inspiration for the character -- that made me wish we *had* learned a little more about him. (And, y'know, come to think of it, the people who run these sorts of ministries frequently self-identify as "ex-gay" and appeal to their experiences in the gay community -- and to their transitioning *out* of that community -- as the sort of thing that gives them the authority to lead such ministries. So I don't think the Edgerton character's past would have been kept secret from any of the people who took part in his program; there's no reason the main character *wouldn't* have known about it. But I don't think the Edgerton character *ever* discusses his past. Assuming he has one.)

*** SPOILERS OFF ***

kenmorefield wrote:
: There is plenty here to critique even if one is committed to the belief that the Bible teaches homosexuality as a sin. (I am, myself, conflicted about that proposition, though I'd hate for the film to be reduced to a platform for arguing about that...surely Christians can (or should?) be able to acknowledge that some things are wrong regardless of who they are done to.

I don't *think* I know anyone personally -- outside of people I have interviewed in my capacity as a journalist -- who advocates "gay conversion therapy" or anything of that ilk. Even the traditional Christians I know (and I go to an Eastern Orthodox church, so) tend to focus on chastity and sexual *actions* rather than highly dubious psychological techniques for changing a person's sexual orientation. So, yeah, I would think -- hope -- that some of the things that happen in this film would seem wrong to anybody who watches it, no matter what their position on the larger issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/10/2018 at 10:31 AM, Peter T Chattaway said:

 

*** SPOILERS OFF ***

kenmorefield wrote:
: There is plenty here to critique even if one is committed to the belief that the Bible teaches homosexuality as a sin. (I am, myself, conflicted about that proposition, though I'd hate for the film to be reduced to a platform for arguing about that...surely Christians can (or should?) be able to acknowledge that some things are wrong regardless of who they are done to.

I don't *think* I know anyone personally -- outside of people I have interviewed in my capacity as a journalist -- who advocates "gay conversion therapy" or anything of that ilk. Even the traditional Christians I know (and I go to an Eastern Orthodox church, so) tend to focus on chastity and sexual *actions* rather than highly dubious psychological techniques for changing a person's sexual orientation. So, yeah, I would think -- hope -- that some of the things that happen in this film would seem wrong to anybody who watches it, no matter what their position on the larger issues.

2

The film offered some stats at the end about how widespread/common this is, but I did not write them down.  Certainly, there could be some people that are, in principle, opposed but do little to stop or interfere with it, or who whose opinions are more or less informed based on what they know about it from second-hand.

Those statistics would be complicated, I would think, by the inability to monitor(and thus accurately count) and the fact that it appears as though gay-conversion can be a catch all term that would cover a range of different practices. 

I thought the film was clearer than you apparently thought about

the relationship between the rape and Jerad's sexual orientation. That he seems okay, even curious, about the contact until it escalates, culminating in rape, reinforces his later claim that he *thinks* about men. It seems safe to say he was acting on an impulse/orientation that he had, but whether he would have been able to resist that impulse indefinitely or how his development might have been different...we'll never know. I certainly think one of the many tragedies of the film is that the view of his community that has a hetero/homo binary rather than, say, a Kinseyian scale view of sexual orientation, doesn't allow him anyway of reporting the rape or saying he is struggling with those feelings. What would have happened if...we'll never know. And I suspect the author would continue to claim that he was homosexual and knew it by that time...but I allow for the possibility that the therapy ironically locked him into a binary way of thinking that would have made it harder for him to admit he was exploring or somewhere lower on a Kinsey scale had that been the case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, I don't necessarily question that the character *did* have thoughts about men before the incident. The film just never *tells* us that before the incident. (I have Love, Simon at the back of my mind here, and the opening narration in which the protagonist says he began to suspect he was gay when he had dreams about Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe, or something along those lines. There was nothing like that in Boy Erased; if audience members didn't know the movie's premise, would they have known the character was gay *at all* during those opening scenes?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've not seen this movie (and won't until it hits streaming), but I found this conversation between Kevin Garcia and Garrard Conley to be interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×