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Boy Erased


Stars: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton

Director: Joel Edgerton

Following on from The Miseducation of Cameron Post, seen earlier this year, this is a somewhat less hysterical and certainly more serious look at the awful 'gender-realignment' camps that still existed in American a few years ago, that somehow still manages to miss the mark.

Eighteen-year-old Jared (Hedges), the son of strict Baptists (Kidman, Crowe) is only just realising his sexual orientation - gay - when his parents pack him off to one such camp, run by the aggressive Victor Sykes (Edgerton), who comes across as a nasty piece of work with a sadistic streak.

But, put a group of gay and lesbian teenagers together and, well, it almost inevitably engenders the opposite effect to that desired. 'I'm starting to wonder,' Hedges tells Kidman after a week or so, 'if this is really gonna change me.'

Pretty naive, perhaps, but then this is the boy who has told his parents 'I'm so sorry', which, under the circumstances, is rather more than generous.

Nothing wrong with the performances here (and Crowe is particularly good) but technically the downbeat film, which drones on like a dirge, shoots itself in the foot with every step. The photography is grimy, the pace slow and the music intrusive; for all its good intentions, the film is just so unattractive to watch.

And possibly, even given its importance, this is a subject that doesn't really lend itself to cinematic treatment.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Universal (Focus). Colour (unspecified).
115 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 05 Feb 2019