Two new movies that were both filmed in Atlanta — one gay themed and the other featuring a famous out comic/actress — are in theaters now.
Based on the acclaimed memoir by Garrard Conley, “Boy Erased’ tells the story of a Baptist preacher’s son who is struggling with the realization that he is gay. Jared Eamons (played by Lucas Hedges) is outed to his parents Marshall (Russell Crowe) and Nancy (Nicole Kidman) and his father sends him to a gay conversion therapy camp to “fix” him. During the stay, Jared questions why he is there.
What “Boy Erased” misses is a real emotional connection. Joel Edgerton (who stars in the film as a conversion camp leader) has adapted the script and also directs the movie. His direction is not altogether successful. The characters remain at arm’s length.
Nonetheless, “Boy Erased’ is an important, well-made film. It’s saved by excellent performances from top to bottom, especially from Kidman as a mother whose love for her son supersedes anything else. The subject matter alone makes it well worth seeing. A tag at the end provides statistics about the prevalence of such conversion camps.
Tig Notaro is one of the cast members of the new comedy “Instant Family,” directed by Sean Anders. In it, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne star as a couple who don’t want children until they decide to give foster parenting a try. What they don’t realize is that the teenage girl they are interested in comes with two siblings. Notaro and Octavia Spencer are the leaders of the foster support group, which also includes a gay couple. “We had same-sex couples in our support group and a lot of people came
in for different reasons,” says Anders.
“We wanted to represent those people around us.”
The best element of the film is the chemistry between Notaro and Spencer. “Octavia was a huge get for us,” says Anders. “She read it and loved it. I was on a cloud and we were talking about who to partner her with. When I was in Atlanta, Tig popped into my head and it seemed like the best idea. Within a few days she was down here. They are so good together.”
Notaro concurs. “My agent called and said I was being offered this role opposite Octavia and I just thought, ‘I can’t turn that down.’ Also, they sent the script which I thought was well done and I had my own interest in adoption and had some close friends who went through the system in .LA. and it spoke to me. When I met Octavia we had a connection and could play off each other.”
The comic and actress could relate to the material. “When I was single, I had gone to adoption agencies looking into that possibility but I had some health issues at the time,” she says. “I wasn’t the best candidate. I am married now and have two young boys and adoption siblings always interested me. My wife has not seen the movie yet but I have this fantasy that she sees it at the premiere and says, ‘Let’s go kids.’”