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Film / Boy Erased

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Boy Erased is a biographical drama film written and directed by Joel Edgerton and based on the memoir of the same title written by Garrard Conley.

The movie stars Lucas Hedges as Jared Eamons, the gay teenage son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) who after being outed is forced to join a conversion therapy group. The movie co-stars Nicole Kidman as Jared's mother, Nancy Eamons; Joel Edgerton as Victor Sykes, the leader of the camp; Flea as Brandon, a counselor at the camp; and Troye Sivan and Xavier Dolan as fellow members of the camp.

The movie was released on November 8, 2018. The trailer can be seen here.


Boy Erased contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The film is mainly set during the Turn of the Millennium. This is most noticeably reflected by Jared's huge cell phone, though the styles, cars, and video games are also fairly accurate to the time period.
  • Abusive Parents: Like Jared's parents, most of the parents who send their teens to Love in Action are simply misguided (at one point, a pair of parents angrily pull their son out the program after a physical exercise gone awry). That's definitely not the case for Cameron's father, who emotionally abuses his son by constantly belittling and embarrassing him. This culminates in a humiliating mock funeral staged after Cameron lapses, which includes members of his entire family (including his tearful little sister) beating him with bibles as he kneels in front of a casket.
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  • Adaptational Name Change: So many, but the most noticeable being Garrard Conley becoming Jared Eames and David becoming Henry.
  • Armoured Closet Gay:
    • Jon is a variation; he is so dedicated to succeeding in the program that he refuses to physically touch another man and berates other patients for not trying hard enough.
    • The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reveals that Victor Sykes's Real Life counterpart John Smid quit Love in Action, and eventually came to terms with his sexuality and married another man.
  • Award-Bait Song: Besides portraying a small supporting role, Troye Sivan provides the original song "Revelation", which plays twice during the movie.
  • The Beard: Jared's high school girlfriend, Chloe.
  • Blaming the Victim:
    • Henry outs Jared as gay to deflect from his rape of Jared.
    • Jared originally lists Henry as one of his sins.
    • The counselor hints that Jared should blame himself.
  • Bury Your Gays: Cameron Van Heusen, who commits suicide partly as a result of the conversion therapy.
  • Cast Full of Gay
  • Cure Your Gays: The film (and the book its based on) is all based around showing how conversion therapy is a very bad thing, even from people who might believe they have good intentions or if the gay person might "want" to become straight. Trying to make people become someone they're not is incredibly dangerous, especially if it's attempted using humiliation and physical abuse.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Henry is a sexual predator who rapes Jared and at least one other young man.
  • Driven to Suicide: Poor Cameron ends up killing himself shortly after helping Jared escape from Love in Action.
  • Experimented in College: Jared has his first romantic connection with another man at college, away from the supervision of his religious parents.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Jared is outed to his parents by Henry, his rapist.
  • Gayngst: The lead character, as well as many of the other therapy participants.
  • Gayngst-Induced Suicide: Cameron.
  • I Want Grandkids: Marshall is very invested in getting his only son to marry his high school girlfriend for this reason; when Jared comes out, this is also one of the main reasons for his anger.
  • Let's Wait Awhile: Jared says this to his high school girlfriend, which presumably leads to them breaking up not long after.
  • Karma Houdini: Henry. He receives no punishment in-universe for any of the wrongs he commits.
  • Mama Bear: As soon as it becomes clear that Love in Action is mistreating her son, Nancy snaps and does not hesitate to remove him from the program, even delivering a scathing Reason Why You Suck Speech to Sykes on the way out.
  • Manly Gay: Jared was an athlete in high school and is the only member of the group shown to do well at Brandon's assessments of "manliness". He also doesn't display any camp mannerisms.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: A rare serious example: Jared goes to bathroom unsupervised for some privacy and is caught by Brandon. Because a part of the therapy is a ban on any kind of sexual behavior, Jared has to fake using the restroom to avoid punishment.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The viewer never actually learns precisely what happens at the houses behind the center where its long term "patients" stay, but absolutely everyone is terrified out of their minds of being sent there. Fortunately, Jared gets out just as Sykes makes the decision to commit him.
  • Parents as People: Marshall and Nancy are shown to make a tremendously harmful mistake by not vetting Love in Action and by not accepting and supporting their son for who he is in the first place. However, they are both shown to genuinely love Jared, their decision to sign him up for conversion coming from wanting to "help" him in accordance with their religious upbringings. Both eventually come to realize their mistake and ask for Jared's forgiveness, though Marshall takes a few more years than Nancy.
  • The Pastor's Queer Kid: Jared is the gay son of a Baptist preacher. His conservative parents enter him into a conversion therapy program.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Sykes tried to get Jared to bring up Henry, his rapist, during a "therapy" session, as well as trying to get him to say he hated his father. Jared has finally had enough and starts screaming at the counselors and stages an escape to meet his mom.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: One of the most noticeable signs that Love in Action is not a reputable psychological institution is rampant misspellings and grammar errors in its handbooks, including spelling "God" as "Dog".
  • Villainous Lineage: Love in Action believes this to be the case; one of its exercises involves its patients writing down geneologies to trace where their sinful behavior comes from.
  • Women Are Wiser: Unlike her husband, Nancy is hesitant to sign Jared up for conversion therapy and almost immediately begins to recognize the issues with the program even when Jared keeps silent. She doesn't hesitate to remove him from the program when asked and apologizes to Jared for her mistake, something that takes Marshall many more years.