Joel Edgerton is one of the most versatile Aussie talents in the film industry.
The Blacktown native made his name as an actor but has risen through the ranks with his writing and directing skills.
His latest film, Boy Erased, showcases all of his impressive skills.
The film tells the true story of Garrad Conley (his name is changed to Jared Eames for the movie), a pastor’s son who was sent to gay conversion therapy camp when he revealed he was having homosexual thoughts.
This could easily be a film that made Eames’ parents cartoonish villains who hated their child and lived only to destroy his life.
But Boy Erased is not that film.
It feels authentic, layered, complex and tells a story of parents who love their son and genuinely think they’re doing something good for him.
Oscar-nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea) brings 18-year-old Jared to life.
He is a devout first-year college student, struggling to reconcile his feelings with the religious teachings he has known all his life.
Hedges does a marvellous job showing the depths of emotion Jared possesses – his love for his parents, his frustration at being unable to act on his feelings, his fear of disappointing people and his anger at being asked to admit to his ‘homosexual sins’.
Aussie acting royalty Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe play Jared’s parents.
They are both phenomenal, and steer well clear of stereotypical portrayals.
Kidman inhabits her character and the pull between her faith and her love for her son are constantly evident.
Crowe, though, had the harder job – a dedicated pastor whose son now represents all he stands against, in his eyes.
He shows such pain and inner torment at wanting to love his son for who he is, but being unable to reconcile that with everything he believes so strongly.
Edgerton casts himself as the leader of the conversion camp. With a creepy moustache and tucked-in polo shirt, he completely changes into someone audiences immediately distrust.
Boy Erased is a stirring true story. Some parts are truly difficult to watch while others will have you cheering.