Boy Erased

Rated 3.0

Only another impressive turn from Lucas Hedges elevates this earnest but slipshod drama above the level of an after-school special. Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley and starring Hedges as Conley, Boy Erased covers the Arkansas teenager’s immersion in gay conversion therapy, while also flashing back to the events that led him to enroll in the sadistic and pointless fundamentalist program. Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman give perfunctory supporting performances as Conley’s religious parents, who initially encouraged him to enter the so-called “ex-gay” program. Scripted and directed by Joel Edgerton (The Gift), who also co-stars as the abusive program leader Victor Sykes (an avatar for the real-life Love in Action director John Smid), Boy Erased is sensitive but distant, with no shortage of hackneyed storytelling devices. There are some powerful moments, but despite Hedges’ nuanced work, we always feel a little emotionally and intellectually removed from the protagonist.