Stars: Lucas Hedges, Joel Edgerton, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe
Australian actor-turned-director Edgerton’s second film is a heartfelt but uninvolving adaptation of gay writer Garrard Conley’s memoir of growing up in a conservative Christian family in Arkansas. ‘Manchester by the Sea’s’ Lucas Hedges is Jared Eamons, the troubled gay son of Baptist preacher and car dealer Marshall (Crowe) and hairdresser Nancy (Kidman). To ‘cure’ his sexual orientation he is sent to a gay conversion programme Love in Action, ran behind closed doors by self-proclaimed therapist Victor Sykes (Edgerton, awarding the juiciest role to himself). His mother books a nearby hotel where she and Jared stay during the treatment. On the course, attendees are asked to write a moral inventory of their actions and perceived shortcomings in a notebook, and encouraged not to divulge what goes on to their parents. The picture flashes back to illustrate Jared’s arrival at college and how, following a harrowing incident, he is outed by a fellow student. While there’s no doubting the sincerity of the director and his cast, the picture feels earnest and dull, particularly as very similar subject matter was covered to more engaging effect in the comedy drama ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’. But where the protagonists in that film were relatable, if a little too self-possessed, Jared feels too passive and bland a character to engage with.