Jared Eamons is the son of a Baptist preacher and is forced to attend a gay conversion programme after his parents find out about his sexual preferences when he starts college.
Everything in Jared’s life seemed to be going well on the sports teams in high school, a nice girlfriend and supportive parents. When starting college he had just split up with his girlfriend and then meets a boy early on in his college days. While an attraction is there between them he is raped and then as a cover up to stop him from reporting it his rapist outs him to his parents. Marshall his father taking it very badly and deciding what to do with him with other pastors.
The thing that is decided on is gay conversion therapy led by Victor Sykes. Jared is staying in a hotel close to the venue for the programme, with his mother Nancy. Although she doesn’t fully understand the methods they are using day to day. Sykes is brutal towards the young people he is trying to “fix” and the methods are very cruel.
Some of them pretend they are healing and cured from the feelings they once had only to get back into the real world and then live as they feel happy. Others cannot cope and rebel against the system. Jared goes through both phases as he wants nothing more than to be back in his own life. Not being told everything he feels is wrong and immoral.
This was all just an assessment phase if they see fit they might have to stay for a full year and are placed in a house rather than a hotel. Something that I found really difficult was remembering that not only is this based on a true story but it happened to so many young people. So many cruel things just about who you are attracted to, please bare that in mind if you decide to watch this film it is far from easy viewing.
Especially when they are constantly told they are not allowed to discuss any of the methods with anyone outside of the programme which really should raise alarm bells for the parents willing to subject their children to this awful thing right? Well, you would certainly hope so. For Jared he was one of the lucky ones as he managed to hold himself together (just) and find light at the end of the tunnel when his mother eventually supports her son and goes against her husband.
The performances are outstanding led by Lucas Hedges who I feel is one of the best actors of his generation (at the moment that is) but he really does manage to show an incredible variation of emotions from start to finish. Joel Edgerton took on the directing role as well as the horrible preacher believing that he can change sexuality. Nicole Kidman in a small supporting role was as powerful as ever, Russell Crowe doesn’t really have enough screen time.
It is scary to think that this still happens in some places around the world and is an important film to raise awareness about a truly horrific thing to put people through. Especially when it is something that cannot be changed and more importantly does not need to be changed. Love is love!