I Accuse My Parents: Boy Erased Tries to be Radical but Ends Up Middling
In the '80s and '90s, a new group of filmmakers emerged in the independent film scene and started a revolution that became known as the "New Queer Cinema." Made by young, openly gay filmmakers, these films sought to break down societal norms and expose the reality of the problems facing LGBT people to the rest of the world. Today as LGBT rights have become more tangible, Queer Cinema has more or less entered the mainstream. Unfortunately, that means it has entered the pantheon of "tepid, middlebrow Oscar pandering" as Boy Erased has shown.
Based on Gerrard Conley's memoir, the film follows Jared (Lucas Hedges), a teenage boy in a small Southern town who comes out to his parents and suddenly finds his life turned upside down. Jared must now attend a gay conversion therapy program or risk abandonment by his church, his community, and even his mother (Nicole Kidman) and Baptist pastor father (Russell Crowe, rocking a sweet dad bod).
The scenes in the conversion camp are absolutely horrifying. We watch helplessly as young people are forced to reject their very selves or face humiliation and outright abuse. Unfortunately, that's just a backdrop for what the film is really concerned with: presenting the suffering of these kids only to show how it affects Jared's parents and making them confront their decisions. It's a gay film made exclusively for straight people. It makes me wish the film had only followed the kids in the camp. Of course, that was already covered in Jamie Babbit's But I'm a Cheerleader, a much better and more entertaining film. Here, the performances are fine, but the scenes outside the camp leave me emotionally cold. LGBT films have moved beyond such tired melodrama. — Forest Taylor
Directed by: Joel Edgerton // Written by: Joel Edgerton, based on the memoir by Gerrard Conley // Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Xavier Dolan, Troye Sivan, Jesse LaTourette, Britton Sear and Flea // 114 minutes // Rated R