By Don Morton
April 22, 2019
For his second directorial effort following the very good The Gift, Joel Edgerton takes up the infuriatingly absurd Christian fundamentalist practice known as gay conversion therapy. Based on a memoir by Gerrard Conley, who survived such a program, it’s the story of Jared (Lucas Hedges), who is at first on-board with the program, but as the sessions morph from relatively benign AA-like “confessions,” to literally beating the homosexual sin out of one poor participant with the Bible, he begins to see it, and himself, in a truer light.
The up-and-coming Hedges (Manchester by the Sea; Lady Bird; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Ben Is Back), is backed up by a stellar cast including Nicole Kidman as his eventually enlightened mom and Russell Crowe as his Baptist preacher father. Producer/writer/director Edgerton reserves for himself the juicy role of Victor Sykes, the odious, self-righteous chief homophobe of the program. Well cast.
This is a polished, humanistic and intelligent film that avoids melodrama and is ultimately cathartic and uplifting, regardless of your own sexual orientation. (115 min)