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Everything you need to know about awards contender Boy Erased

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With the Oscars looming, talk has now turned to the upcoming films that stand a chance of winning the coveted golden statue.

One of those films that has flown somewhat under the radar is Boy Erased, an empathetic look at a very difficult subject that has already wowed critics at several festivals.

Having already impressed at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, here's everything you need to know about the film before it hits our screens in February.

What is Boy Erased about?

Boy Erased is a semi-biographical film about a young gay man named Jared Eamons, and what he must endure when he is forcibly outed to his deeply religious parents. His father being a Baptist preacher, Jared is given the choice of attending gay conversion therapy or being forever shunned by his friends and family.

Based on the memoirs of Garrard Conley, this true story offers commentary on family, faith and identity, while detailing the inner workings of conversion therapy in such a way as to provoke both empathy and revulsion.

The story details Jared's experiences before, during and after the conversion therapy, offering a window into the lives of the men forced to attend and the harm that can come from this misguided 'cure'.


Who directs Boy Erased?

Helming this exploration of difficult subject matter is the prodigiously talented Joel Edgerton. Not only serving as writer and director, Edgerton also stars as Victor Sykes, the chief conversion therapist.

Edgerton has been a Hollywood staple for some time, consistently putting in good performances in a variety of different genres including sports drama Warrior (opposite Tom Hardy), science-fiction mystery Midnight Special and creepy horror It Comes at Night.

Boy Erased will be Edgerton's second foray into directing, having helmed the intelligently immersive thriller The Gift, which drew excellent performances from Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. A uniquely intriguing, and often surprising, mystery, The Gift was praised by both audiences and critics alike, wonderfully demonstrating Edgerton's breakout directorial abilities.




Who stars in Boy Erased?

Jared Eamons is played by Lucas Hedges, a young actor who has an impressive back catalogue and, at the spry age of 22, has already established himself as one of Hollywood's most talented prospects.

Most impressively, Hedges has already received his first Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, in 2016's heartbreaking Manchester by the Sea. He has also starred in several other award darlings including two of last year's Best Picture nominees: Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The parents of our central character elevate this stellar cast even further, portrayed by the ludicrously famous, and multiple award winning, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Interestingly, this is the first time the Oscar-winning Aussie stars of Gladiator and Moulin Rouge! have appeared together on the big screen, and they're sure to bring added gravitas to this compelling drama.


What have the critics said about Boy Erased?

So, with an emotionally gripping story, along with a great lead actor surrounded by solid supporting cast and direction, all of the ingredients are present and correct. But is the film any good?

Thankfully, the answer seems to be a resounding 'yes', as the film sits very comfortably with an 80% approval rating on reviews aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. The film wowed critics at Colorado's Telluride festival, with the majority highlighting Lucas Hedges' riveting central performance, as well as director Joel Edgerton's grounded approach to such stark subject matter. It's been described as sensitive, powerful and overwhelmingly beautiful in its depiction of a complex moral dilemma.

Finally, the reviews have addressed the film's importance, with Variety's Peter Debruge stating that it "feels like its greatest value will be to parents, particularly those with LGBT children of their own – and Crowe and Kidman have seldom been better in their supporting roles. So often, parents view this news as a reflection on themselves, searching to understand their own failings, or else looking for a way to repair the problem."

The movie has already been nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Actor for Lucas Hedges and Best Original Song ('Revelation', performed by Troye Sivan who also appears in the movie). And with a clutch of independent awards nominations also under its belt, the film may emerge as a dark horse in this year's Oscar nominations. 



Boy Erased is released in Cineworld on 8th February.

Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.