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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A powerful story that understates the truth

Cole Fowler says what “Boy Erased” lacks in structure is made up for with good acting. 
Photo by Creative Commons

Cole Fowler says what “Boy Erased” lacks in structure is made up for with good acting. 

Directed by Joel Edgerton, “Boy Erased” is adapted from the memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley. The film follows Jared Eamons as he struggles through the horrors of the homosexual conversion therapy camp, Love in Action. Joel Edgerton’s adaptation certainly draws attention to this widespread issue but does not quite capture the true horrors of these camps.
The film opens on Jared’s admittance to the camp, and the plotline moves back and forth between his time at the camp and the events leading up to his admittance. This fractured narrative perfectly mirrors the underlying attempt of the camp to break down the young adults in attendance. However, this narrative structure mutes the emotional impact of the film. This is a direct result of Edgerton’s lack of experience in filmmaking, but the fact that he’s new to the craft does not tarnish the importance of this story.
Edgerton focuses on Jared’s narrative, but the most potent aspect of the film is exposure of the hypocrisy of the conversion therapy. Edgerton also has an acting role in the film, and his role as the “pastor” of the camp is much more impactful than his role as the director. His acting role infuses the hatred into the story and perfectly contrasts the purity of Jared throughout the film.
“Boy Erased” is the second film of 2018 to adapt memoirs of personal narratives describing the disgusting nature of conversion therapy. Earlier this year, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” directed by Desiree Akhavan, followed Cameron Post through her experience in a similar camp but focused more on her personal story rather than an exposé of the camps themselves. Unfortunately for Edgerton, it is impossible to watch each of the films without comparing the two. Akhavan, although nearly equally as inexperienced as Edgerton, created a much more emotionally impactful film since she focused on Cameron’s personal narrative. This allowed the movie to develop much more naturally rather than the forced approach taken by Edgerton.
The entire cast is phenomenal, but Lucas Hedges and Xavier Dolan deliver two of the most notable performances. Hedges, who plays the role of Jared, shines in his role, and his innocence on screen truly ushers in the heartbreak of the story. As he is forced to try to conform to the teachings of the camp, his struggle feels authentic, and this is due to Hedges’ the brilliant acting range. Dolan is fantastic in his role as Jon, and he perfectly compliments Hedges in the scenes that they share.
Ultimately, “Boy Erased” is overshadowed by other films on the same topic and even the actors in the film. These stories are immensely important, but “Boy Erased” does not successfully depict the subject as well as other films. However, the source material paired with the fantastic acting ranges of both Hedges and Dolan make up for the poor narrative structure choices of Edgerton.
Rating: 3.5/5
Cole Fowler is a English sophomore and Life & Arts writer for The Battalion.

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