Boy Erased, a film based on a memoir from Arkansas native Garrard Conley, has finally made its way to Arkansas theaters and it's an emotional and powerful portrayal about the horrors of gay conversion therapy programs.
Starring Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, the film shows the struggles of Jared and his two parents trying to balance their Christianity with their son's admission that he is gay.
At first, it's clear that Jared thinks going down this route is the smart choice, but slowly the conversion therapy camp reveals itself through an insidious "therapist" played by Joel Edgerton, who delivers a haunting and subtle performance. Throughout the film, Jared and his mother show that love will always conquer hate, no matter how forceful hate can be.
Conflict emerges itself in this film not through arguments but through whether the choices people make are the right ones. Jared's parents struggle as much as he does with the weight of their decisions.
The film relies heavily on the actors involved and they deliver, bringing emotion to nearly every scene. In a lot of ways, this is a film that will help LGBT people prepare themselves for coming out to family members, but it will hopefully also open more eyes to the dangers of conversion therapy.
Also in theaters this week is the highly anticipated Fantastic Beasts sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald.
It's the second in the so-called "prequels" of the story of The Boy Who Lived, aka Harry Potter. He isn't even born yet in this most recent trip to the land of witches and wizards, but there are plenty of recognizable characters for the most avid Potter fans.
We're introduced to young Albus Dumbledore, Jude Law, as he meets up with the Fantastic Beasts hero Newt Scamander, Eddie Redmayne. Dumbledore has a cryptic mission for Newt (classic Dumbledore) to find and protect young Credence, Ezra Miller, from falling into the wrong hands; specifically the hands of the titular Gellert Grindelwald. Johnny Depp plays Grindelwald - platinum hair, two-toned eyes...and a mysterious hinted-at backstory with Dumbledore. They're the two most powerful wizards of their time (the 1920s) and they go wayyyy back, no spoilers.
As Newt, his no-maj pal Jacob, and their pair of witch-sisters-sometimes-girlfriends all search for Credence, he's simultaneously trying to trace his genealogy to find out who he really is. He does eventually get that answer, and BOY does it set us up for some more sequels.
Oh yeah, and of course it is a Fantastic Beasts movie, so there's plenty of adorable creatures, including the very cute and also useful bowtruckles and nifflers. There's also a few new ones including some terrifying evil cats that take us on a huge chase, and the Zouwu - a take on a fuzzy Chinese dragon that Newt knows how to soothe and befriend.
The Crimes of Grindlewald would be a tough watch for a non-Potterhead, as it begins to really delve into the origins of characters and takes off without much explanation of where we're going from here. But for anyone still waiting for their Hogwarts letter, its a treat to return to this world and learn more about the universe on both sides of the pond.