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Yes No Maybe So: "Boy Erased"

by Nathaniel R

Another Oscar hopeful trailer coming at you. Focus Features will begin the platform release of  Boy Erased this November 2nd which is of course a prime Oscar date. December is sometimes too late but November is a sweet spot, rarely too early nor too late exactly if the film is high profile enough with Oscar pedigree. Not that November is easy. There will be a ton of competition for media attention. 

We now have the poster with Lucas Hedges praying for a second Oscar nomination to release him of this gay burden? And the trailer has arrived too. The buzz is already strong for the acting which is no surprise with the trio of Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe jerking the tears... but can the film itself also impress? The trailer and a Yes No Maybe So breakdown are after the jump... 


• Love Russell Crowe's voice in the trailer voiceover. It reminds me of Kyle Chandler's Friday Night Lights voice, only less loving. This looks like a very lived-in performance from him. Artistic comeback?
• "I think about men" is an uncomfortable line as follow up... but coming out is often uncomfortable and strangely worded. So this gets points for feeling true despite, no, because of its awkwardness. 
• Naturally we're always a yes for Nicole Kidman. She was sensational in Lion and Killing of a Sacred Deer so this sidebar move into supporting but not uncomplicated mother roles is going well. (Thankfully she's still doing the leading roles, too. This woman loves to work.)

• Lucas Hedges is one of our most promising actors and looks typically strong again. That scene about not hating his father looks like a true corker.  
• Lucas Hedges has already proved with Lady Bird that he's adept at playing closeted gayboys
• Bound to be gripping... at least for the intended audience. If only homophobes would see this sort of thing and understand how insane this is!
• Cherry Jones surprise attack! Voice of reason.
• Original Song Oscar campaign alert? "Revelation" by Troye Sivan and Jónsi. 


• Not crazy about the earth-tone somber palette. Feels drab and overused. Not fresh! 
• All the conversations lately about representation and who gets to tell what stories have missed one important piece of the artistic puzzle: art is about imagination and asking artists of any stripe to only write or express what they know will give us a shit-ton of boring narcissistic art. That said, it bothers me that this creative team has no experience with being an LGBT person because this particularly experience (gay conversion therapy) is hyper hyper specific. I'm curious to see what reactions are like to this from the LGBT community versus how people might react to the far smaller profile The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I didn't totally love the former, which won Sundance, but the writer/director (I loved her first movie Appropriate Behavior) is a member of the LGBT community and so much of her film rang true as to what adolescent gay kids go through sexually and emotionally within religious communities. 


• Nicole Kidman's look is very costumey. On the other hand, a certain kind of southern women does love to get dolled up. 
• What are the supporting characters going to be like? Will they add to the drama or merely be mouthpieces for messages (as in the Cherry Jones bit) 
• Is the conversion camp going to be cartoonishly evil? Most real life villains don't actually know that they're villains. It's hard to tell from 2 minutes and 46 seconds how this will play out. It's hard to know because Joel Edgerton's performance tend to be either very restrained or way too broad. Can he direct himself into the middle ground? 

Naturally I'm a yes but I do have a few reservations that I hope won't turn into a feeling of "no" when the film arrives. You? 


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Reader Comments (46)

His breakdown scene in Ladybird was the most powerful moment in any movie last year. I vote Yes.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Nicole's second Oscar please. Right now. And that is EXACTLY right costuming in my book.

I believe this is based on a true story, with the writer doing a TED talk on it if I remember right. I'm guessing he'll know what's appropriate for the creepy counseling.

This trailer killed me. My parents tried to send me to one of these (and yeah, my mom would wear those clothes). Terrifying.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Russell Crowe deserves a comeback. I still remember his fabulous acting from LA Confidental to Master and Commander. Too bad he didn't win for The Insider.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I want Kidman to play Dolly Parton

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I am a Maybe on this one. The trailer seemed very right/evangelical or something. We do say that gay conversion therapy is wrong at the end right? ...... Right?

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamie


That is heartbreaking that you had to go through that. I hope you are surrounded with love in your life presently. *big hug*

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

This is total speculation at this point, but: would it change your reservations if Lucas Hedges were gay? Granted, at least 2 supporting actors are out (and one of them's a SUPER-outspoken filmmaker), but I'm curious how much you think a gay lead - especially a very young one - could sway the overall creative process.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

I'm totally in!

looks like russel crowe 4th nomination and probably second oscar
nicole fifth nomination
lucas second nomination
joel first and second nomination

and... lucas hedges is more great actor for me than chalamet. i'm sorry, but is true!

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjon

I might want to see this. This looks intense as I was more surprised in seeing Flea as a brutal counselor.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

YES. The story is important to be shared to the world and it has Nicole Kidman.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

The trailer is little on the earnest side, but I'm in!

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Kidman I'm not a fan :(

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

KIDMAN not convinced not a fan :(

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

I said this on twitter today after the trailer for this came out, but... anyone else find it amusing that both of Saoirse Ronan's love interest in LADY BIRD have awards-hopeful films coming out which are pretty much spiritual sequels to the characters they play there? Hedges with this film, and Chalamet with Beautiful Boy. I will see both and I can't wait for all to pick Team Hedges or Team Chalamet in the fall.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Yes Kidman's wig will surely secure her a fifth nod.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I was SO much more convinced by this trailer than the one for Beautiful Boy... even though it feels a bit silly to compare them since they're very different stories, but they share some similar "hooks", as it were.

Anyway, I'm a total YES.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

I was sent to one of these in Memphis (I'm from TX) - I checked myself out the first day. It was traumatizing to say the least but it's been 15 years and I'm over it! That said, from my experience, the people involved (family, the organization, etc) had the best intentions - they are devoted to their faith and believe that this is a helpful thing - it's love based in its way. I hope that the film (and it looks like it does) doesn't vilify the family and rehab center. There are so many angles you can take it. Yes, it seems crazy, but (again from my experience) these are good people .. just really ignorant. I'm very intrigued & excited.
** Also, is this a period piece?

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Yes, maybe yes and for sure yes.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterV.

i have a uneasy feeling for that rebellious blonde boy...he just screams sacrificial lamb

lucas hedges and the story is enough to get me past my russell crowe/nicole kidman aversions, so i'm a yes

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Is this film stock purposely shot in the dark? Another Nicole Kidman film for the junk pile.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJono

Not my type of film at all - the whole trailer down to the music is way too much. Subtle this film will not be.

Yet, Crowe and Kidman are such exceptional actors and look to be playing real characters (vs one dimensional villains) and Hedges is a huge up-and-comer. I don’t think I’ll see this but hope for all the best for the talent involved.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

This looks difficult to watch, but I'm a Yes.

(Hugs) to all of us.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

There's an idea for a matchup Nathaniel. Lady Bird's love interests!

Trailer looks alright, but I keep hearing buzz that this is actually not great. It's gone through some reshoots and edits and they're trying to improve it but the first cuts were not hopeful at all.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

Yes to Lucas... One of the finest young actors around.

No on Kidman... her usual stilted acting. I know.. all on this blog love her. Just my opinion.

Yes to the storyline... Very important for today.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRdf

Yes to Lucas... One of the finest young actors around.

No on Kidman... her usual stilted acting. I know.. all on this blog love her. Just my opinion.

Yes to the storyline... Very important for today.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRdf

No on Kidman

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIBEATMERYL

Yes! Lucas to me is more transfixing than Timothee, not that it matters. Let's hope Nicole gets a nod for Oscar supporting. I have a friend who went for a Muslim conversion one - based on his recollection, I can safely say it's just as terrifying if not more.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJans

David thanks for the comment. Life is much better now. :)

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

It's a timely film because the UK is about to ban conversion therapy. I'm always wary about trailers but Hedges seems to have nailed it. I don't get all the love for Kidman, she did some good work when she was younger but that frozen face doesn't do it for me.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoe (UK)

I couldn't agree more that art is about imagination and many diversity warriors are incredibly misguided.

So, like you, I'm trying not to be resentful about the lack of LGBT voices among the key creatives.

....But oh my god could this look any more by-the-numbers and like a straight person's conception of gay trauma?

That said, The Mediocrity of Cameron Post also felt to me like a straight person's presentation of queer trauma. Even though in that case the filmmaker *was* queer.

So ultimately my problem here isn't the heterosexuality behind the camera, it's specifically the lack of imagination.

Hopefully it's just the trailer.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I dunno. Between this and Beautiful Boy I feel like I'm being transported back to 1995-2005, and not in a good way.

At any rate, I'm rooting for Cherry Jones.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

cal roth just made my day: I want Kidman to play Dolly Parton - had me in tears !!
Otherwise ... hmmmm... maybe - absolutely loved Kidman in "Lion" but here not sure. Crowe convinced me much more.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

Read the book and I’m eager to see the film. Lucas Hedges is an ideal Garrard. Kidman looks like she’s nailing this role. I’m a YES.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoel

Someone recommended the book to me a few weeks ago, I didn't even realize they were making a film, so I'm definitely in.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrittani

Agreed about Crowe who emerges stronger than Kidman and it will be time to reward a once BO Oscar Darling,Kidman has once again got an off accent and yes Kidman in Melissa Leo drag is worrying.

2 things stuck out for me as very true,the "I think about men" line is a loaded answer but a simple one and the "I don't hate my father" aswell,as someone who has a funny relationship with his Dad,I don't hate my dad i feel he fails to understand me and I just have no indepth knowledge on him,we act out our roles and we r fine with 6 month phone calls but there's nothing more.

Looks to like a real gut pucher too.

I'd watch Kidman in anything but sometimes not often she is miscast in a role.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Re: representation, I found out yesterday that I'm one degree of separation away from the author of Boy Erased. Looking over his Facebook, it seems like he was more involved in the production than you alluded, as were other gay men (in technical capacities). The director may be straight, but... meh, nobody's perfect. I'm not worried.

Re: Nicole's costume, looking at the actual mother from the film, Nicole's costumes in the trailer actually appear to be bit of an understatement.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Kidman should've given this one to Naomi.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

The last time she wore a horrendous wig she got nominated, so who knows?

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Kidman and Crowe both seem miscast to me as Southern evangelicals, especially when you compare them with Cherry Jones, who seems so very natural in her part. I'm not sure why they were cast in these roles.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

A reserved yes. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong but the entire team gives me faith. The Gift was fairly absorbing for what it was and the cast here is fantastic.

I agree with the criticism of the color palette but it may work in the context of the film, like the drab blues worked in Lance Hammer's Ballast or drab browns worked in Ava Duvernay's Middle of Nowhere.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I'm for sure a Yes-Hedges has earned an easy Yes for his first major lead role at this point, and Kidman's always wonderful. Plus, Crowe has the capacity to be a great actor when he wants to be, and the story feels like one that should be told, and considering the timing (immediately after what I'm praying will be a Blue Wave), might actually do some good in the world by encouraging bans on conversion therapy. The only thing I don't like is Joel Edgerton (whom I have an allergy to), but that's not a strong enough objection to turn down what looks like a terrific picture.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

The account of Russell Crowe racially abusing Azealia Banks I imagine will be brought up during this Oscar season.

July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

@Roger - hopefully only within the context that Banks is an attention seeking moron

July 19, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

JEM -- glad you were able to check yourself out. For some reason i thought these things were more regimented like parents could commit you and you wouldn't be able to leave.

July 19, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Of course I'm a yes and the more coverage we give this issue the better. Just disappointed about the limited release.

July 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrpsabq

Of course I'm a yes and the more coverage we give this issue the better. Just disappointed about the limited release. It needs to be seen in the small towns, like where the movie is set, not in the arthouse movie theaters of the big cities.

July 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterrpsabq

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