Film review: Boy Erased (Director: Joel Edgerton)
Von Sascha Krieger
When a film opens with amateur footage of a small boy filmed by his family, you know a shattered idyll family drama will follow. Accomplished Australian actor Joel Edgerton chooses this beginning for his directorial debut just like he ends it with another set piece: a young man driving and holding his hand out of the car window – still apparently Hollywood’s go-to image for closing out a coming of age story and symbolising a new, free life beginning. What comes between is, as far as its topic is concerned, less Hollywood standard fare. Boy Erased, based on an autobiographical book by New York writer Garrard Conley leads the viewer into a world far removed from what most of us understand as civilised modern society: gay conversion therapies. Still allowed in more than 30 U. S. states even for minors, young men and women, boys and girls are still subjected to this kind of comprehensive mistreatment, particularly rampant in the so-called Bible Belt, the ultra-religious American south. Boy Erased tells the story of 18-year-old Jared, son of an Arkansas preacher, who after going to college is outed to his parents and persuaded to undergo this kind of pseudo-therapy.