by Luke Gorham Film Horizon Line

Boy Erased | Joel Edgerton

November 18, 2018

The year’s second major film addressing the particular evil of church-sanctioned gay conversion therapy, Boy Erased (based on a memoir of the same name) was never going to be subtle. But where Sundance hit The Miseducation of Cameron Post sought to present a measured, artful rendering of a gay youth’s path to self-acceptance, Joel Edgerton‘s film milks the reality of these therapies for their inherent horror and absurdity. And while rationally this proves impactful and cathartic, there is an overwrought, stacking-the-deck quality to the film’s enmity. Edgerton locates scattered moments of intimacy throughout, which keeps his film from being a full-stop farcical punchline — and his economical use of peripheral characters imbues his narrative with some interesting shades of gray. But there is something far more scathing in allowing ideologues of the kind found here to condemn themselves (in the 2002 doc Hell House, for instance) than through the well-intentioned mixed bag that Edgerton offers.

Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2018 | Dispatch 4.