Opening February 21, 2019
Directed by: Joel Edgerton
Writing credits: Garrard Conley, Joel Edgerton
Principal actors: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton
Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) is a typical teenager, hanging out with his friends and girlfriend before going off to college. But Jared seems like an outsider looking into his life and he is troubled by his homosexual feelings. After an incident at college is brought to the attention of his parents, Baptist preacher father Marshall (Russell Crowe) and dutiful wife and mother Nancy (Nicole Kidman), Jared enters a gay-conversion camp run by Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton). Unable to follow the advice of a fellow camp-mate to “fake it till you make it”, Jared finally breaks and takes a stand to get out of the camp.
The depictions of the camp activities to pray the gay out of you aren’t particularly terrifying. While seeming ridiculous to some, I suspect those who share the opinion would have no objection to the processes. However, this is an assessment program and there are hints that something worse is going on if one is sent to the houses for more intensive treatment.
While the point of the movie was the ineffectiveness of gay-conversion therapy, the real strength lies elsewhere. Even in an era of Gay Pride, it shows the struggle someone goes through to accept their sexual orientation. Jared denied his feelings and seemed to be willing to try to change them. His realization that this wasn’t going to happen, and that what they were doing at the camp was wrong, led to his own acceptance of who he is. Not only did Jared stand up for himself but his mother also took a stand for the first time in her life, to support her son. A touching film on acceptance and transformation. (Anne C.)