Boy Erased

Focus Features (2018) 115 min. R

Director: Joel Edgerton

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.

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The Gift

the gift posterSTX/Blumhouse (2015) 108 min. R

Director: Joel Edgerton

Screenplay: Joel Edgerton

Cinematography: Eduard Grau; Editing: Luke Doolan

Production Design: Richard Sherman; Set Decoration: Matthew Flood Ferguson

Costumes: Terry Anderson; Score: Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans

Stars: Jason Bateman (Simon Callen), Rebecca Hall (Robyn Callen), Joel Edgerton (Gordon “Gordo” Mosley), Tim Griffin (Kevin Keeler), Allison Tolman (Lucy), Adam Lazarre-White (Ron), Beau Knapp (Detective Walker), Wendell Pierce (Detective Mills), P.J. Byrne (Danny McDonald), David Denman (Greg), Busy Philipps (Duffy)

For some reason, I kept getting The Gift mixed up with The Box, which also used the Pandora concept as a basis to explore the untapped potential for darkness in seemingly ordinary, unthreatening people. In an overheated summer full of typically hotheaded action blockbusters, this low-key, largely introspective psychological thriller is the real surprise gift to moviegoers and it’s not even close to Christmas yet. Despite being riddled with horror movie clichés and transparent script convolutions which allow audiences to anticipate most of what’s coming, this remains an intriguing, quality sleeper attractively wrapped for our predilection.

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