Conversion Therapy is one of the great, unspoken travesties happening in America today and needs to be exposed as the evil that it is... too bad this movie is terrible and depicts it on a very surface level solely for Oscarbatory reasons....
It's a tough and moving insight into the life of gay persecution and pressure under a self-hating God-fearing zealotry that all the actors delve into with pain-staking heart, even though it's very troubling how the experience of being gay is hardly shown in any positive intimate light outside of the oppressive conversion therapy space and the depiction of a brutal male rape.
This is what happens when straight men feel like they can tell gay stories: everything gets weaved into the tragedy and pain of not fulfilling hetero expectations, the sexual content is confined to rape, and love is generated in spite of identity rather than because of it. Even (and especially) a loving caress is at best bittersweet. Still, Kidman, Crowe, and Hedges give good performances and this provoked feelings.
A masterclass in the question "what does it mean to be moved so deeply by something that leaves you so unimpressed?" I was made aware of the signifiers upon which my desire accrues and a vague sense of injustice was, in me, stirred... The roteness of its aesthetic choices was punctured by the rape scene, which had a lithe balletic quality that made the horror of the situation--for just one scene--horribly real.
It's hard because I went in really wanting to like this film, and came out feeling almost completely unfulfilled. The only redeeming factors were Kidman/Crowe as Jared's parents, Joel Edgerton's performance (not so much in the directing department, though), and the score. It was definitely not terrible but I felt like Hedges was not believable and the story itself didn't really deep dive into the issues. Just okay.
Because of its conservative setting Boy feels specially designed to teach those the rest of us have no time for (ie Australia’s own by-proximity PM). Necessary, I guess. There is worryingly little interior life on display, and the film backs away from its own interesting choices, like cast, in order to appeal to lowest denominator. Hints at a more interesting banality in things like the spelling errors.