In Boy Erased, Lucas Hedges, fresh off playing Frances McDormand’s quietly suffering son in Three Billboards and a closeted gay teen coming to terms with himself in Lady Bird, stars as Nicole Kidman‘s gay son who quietly suffers while trying to come to terms with himself. Directed by the actor Joel Edgerton, the cast is rounded out by Russel Crowe, Troye Sivan, Xavier Dolan, and Cherry Jones.
Much like Sundance breakout The Miseducation of Cameron Post, the film deals with the realities of minors being sent to gay conversion therapy (a practice deemed dangerous by the mainstream psychology community, but still perfectly legal in 37 states). Hedges’s character at first seems like the archetypical good Southern teen. His dad is a preacher, he’s a high school basketball star who catches the eye of the cheerleaders, and seems to be quite popular. Yet through his nervous glances at boys with chiseled cheekbones and hunky models in cologne ads, we’re led to believe he’s harboring a secret. After tearfully confessing his interest in men to his shocked parents, it’s off to therapy with him. An actual therapist, played by Cherry Jones, tells him there’s nothing wrong with him (raising the question: Why don’t more people just listen to Cherry Jones?), but that’s apparently not good enough for his father, so Hedges winds up in a conversion camp. It’s horrible, dark, and abusive, but at least Troye Sivan is there for emotional support.
It should come as no surprise to anyone at this point, that it’s Kidman who seems to give the most captivating performance (going by the trailer, at least). In a perfect Southern mom wig, Kidman’s character is caught between the fundamentalist Christian-fueled homophobia of her husband and her love for her son. She at first puts her faith in the camp, thinking it’s the best option for her son, but eventually comes to the conclusion that “a mother knows when something isn’t right.”
Speaking of Kidman, she’s clearly been on a mission over the past few years to add a Best Supporting Actress Oscar to her mantel. She was nominated in the category in 2017 for Lion, but has given equally outstanding supporting or ensemble roles in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Beguiled, and even the otherwise ridiculous The Paper Boy. She’s clearly angling to put some “Multi-Oscar Winning Actress” respect on her name.
As for Hedges, who had his breakthrough with the coming-of-age role in Manchester by the Sea, he has several more coming-of-age roles turning up on his IMDb. Most notably, he’ll play a young Shia LaBeouf in an upcoming Shia LaBeouf–directed movie (LaBeouf will play his own father).
Boy Erased will hit theaters on November 2nd, in the heat of Oscars season.