Screenplay: Joel Edgerton based on Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley
Cinematography: Eduard Grau; Editing: Jay Rabinowitz; Production Design: Chad Keith; Art Direction: Jonathan Guggenheim; Costumes: Trish Summerville; Score: Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans
Stars: Lucas Hedges (Jared Eamons), Nicole Kidman (Nancy Eamons), Russell Crowe (Marshall Eamons), Joel Edgerton (Victor Sykes), Joe Alwyn (Henry), Théodore Pellerin (Xavier), Xavier Dolan (Jon), Troye Sivan (Gary), Britton Sear (Cameron), Flea (Brandon), Emily Hinkler (Lee), Jesse LaTourette (Sarah), David Joseph Craig (Michael), Madelyn Cline (Chloe), Cherry Jones (Dr. Muldoon)
A couple years ago cinemas were inundated by a flap of “Girl” movies (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl on the Train, Gone Girl), and Boy Erased is not to be confused with that other “Boy” movie in circulation last season, the similarly titled Beautiful Boy, though there are superficial similarities. Both focus on the father-son conflict, with the older man having his son institutionalized to ‘save’ him from what he saw as a self-destructive lifestyle. Boy Erased even relied on a similar gambit of home movie montages, introducing us to the boy when he was still, well, a boy, at a prepubescent stage in life, allowing audiences bonding time before his sexuality need become an alienating factor.
Production Design: Jade Healy; Set Decoration: Adam Willis
Costumes: Wendy Moynihan; Score: Tyler Bates
Stars: A.J. Bowen (Sam Turner), Joe Swanberg (Jake Williams), Kentucker Audley (Patrick), Amy Seimetz (Caroline), Gene Jones (Father), Kate Lyn Sheil (Sarah White), Talia Dobbins (Savannah), Donna Biscoe (Wendy Johnson), Lashaun Clay (Robert Evans), Dale Neal (Andre Evans), Shirley Jones Byrd (Lorraine Davis), Christian O’Jore (Pilot)
Personally directed, written and edited by Ti West, The Sacrament is very much an auteur piece and like his earlier, equally unpleasant House of the Devil, West has again returned to an ’80s milieu for inspiration. Despite its contemporary setting, The Sacrament is actually a none too thinly disguised reworking of the 1978 incident at Jonestown, Guyana in which the parishioners of a religious commune known as the People’s Temple committed mass suicide following the assassination of visiting Congressman Leo Ryan and several of his aides seen as outside threats by loyalist sect members.
“Think of a tree, how it grows ‘round its roots. The branch breaks off, it don’t stop, but keeps reaching toward the light.” – The New World
Terrence Malick has always been an acquired taste. His movies are mood pieces paced to the cadence of internal monologues whispered rhetorically by his characters in hushed, reverential tones onscreen. Striving for more than the movie medium can encompass, he’s a visionary seeking to push past its restricting barriers to self-expression. When the man stays focused there’s no director better at vividly evoking the sentient, existential sensations of simple human perception. His movies pulsate with the vibrancy of life as we experience it at almost a subliminal level. They heighten our awareness in a way that makes us feel as if we were experiencing a movie fully awake and responsive for the first time.