In Review: Boy Erased

Adapted from Gerrard Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased paints a picture of repressed queer white middle America, in all of the religious familial practice and assumption of normalcy to go with the setting. Lucas Hedges plays the author (here named Jared Eamons) as he is sent to a gay conversion center called Love In Action by his parents, played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. In the hands of sophomore director Joel Edgerton (himself playing Love in Action’s mouthpiece and leader Victor Sykes) however, this search for healing is detrimentally willing to sacrifice what’s real.

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In Review: The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince suffers the familiar strains of the modern biopic, charting the humiliating downfall of Oscar Wilde with structurally scattered and emotionally limited effect. Obviously a project of great importance to Rupert Everett, as the actor wrote and directed the film in addition to starring as the notorious writer, the film is still notably passionate despite its haphazard expediency. What we ultimately get is affectionate portraiture shoved into a soggy package that often mistakes its ping ponging construction for insightful texture.

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In Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post takes a look at christian gay conversion therapy camps with an eye as curious for the blasé as the insidious. As its titular hero is subjected to its invasive therapy as punishment for her sexual relationship with a friend, her experience within the camp’s sterile walls is a burden to be born for its monotony as much as its cruelty. Like the teenage years, sure, it’s hell. But it’s also incredibly mundane as you are waiting for your real life to begin.

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In Review: Disobedience

The saying “you can never go home again” means something different for queer folks. At best, our formative communities and family units still carry the feeling of before and after we became someone else. For those of harsher reality, a return brings it’s own consequences, a reckoning of lingering past, anxious present, and uncertain future. If this person is permitted to return at all.

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In Disobedience, the latter is closer to the truth for Ronit, a photographer and former member of an enclosed conservative Jewish community, played with tense reserve by Rachel Weisz. Her return is prompted by the funeral of her strict father to which she was estranged, but the real coming home is to her former trio unit with the doting Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) and Esti (Rachel McAdams). Dovid has risen in the ranks of the Orthodoxy as a rabbi and Esti is now his wife, creating odd maneuverability around what their group has been and how it has changed.

But the meaningful glances between Ronit and Esti tell us all we need to know about this repressed shared past. And yet the palpability of the unspoken brews questions upon questions for us until they can now more stifle themselves behind their darting eyes and hesitant sentences.

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In Review!: “Closet Monster”

Rarely are teen narratives are met with the ingenuity and inventiveness of Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster – even rarer within specifically queer ones. Even solid recent examples (like this weekend’s The Edge of Seventeen) tend to be straightforward affairs, more often than not becoming bland in presentation. That lack in imagination bleeds over into character development, narrative point of view, and conflict resolution in ways that undermine the value of their own subject. Thankfully this is not the case with the ambitious Closet Monster.

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Dunn’s take is a coming out narrative you’ve certainly seen before with a few inclusions that make the film spark with personality and uniqueness. Oscar (Connor Jessup) lives with his father (Aaron Abrams) under the umbrella of toxic masculinity as he prepares for college and hides out as a loner. While the familiar story beats of divorce and virginity pop up, the real sparkle comes from side diversions like Oscar’s horror makeup dreams and his spirit animal / imaginary friend relationship with his hamster (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Oscar’s trauma isn’t limited to standard bullying tropes and a macho father, but the fatal gaybashing he witnessed in youth manifests in both his self-worth and sexual anxiety. This isn’t starting to sound so familiar, is it?

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