Netflix’s ‘Girl’ Is Another Example of Trans Trauma Porn and Should Be Avoided At All Costs

The following article contains several spoilers for the Netflix film Girl, directed by Lukas Dhont. A trigger warning for bodily mutilation.

I’ve never seen the Academy Award-winning film The Danish Girl, but I recently tweeted what I guessed would be a summary of its plot: Eddie Redmayne, who plays Lili Elbe, stares in the mirror a lot, emphasizing the chasm between his body as it is and his body as it could be. How did I know that? Because when cisgender people, like me, make a film about the transgender experience, it’s often made from the same cis viewpoint: that transition is wholly and solely a physical one, one that is grueling, tragic, medical and lamentable.

That same spirit permeates Girl, except ratcheted up to 11. Very little about Girl could be called subtle. Girl tells the story of a young transgender girl, Lara (Victor Polster), studying ballet at a prestigious Belgian dance academy while also starting hormone replacement therapy and preparing for gender confirmation surgery. Unfortunately, the film, which already won the Camera d’Or at Cannes for best first feature film, does little to explore the inner psychology of a trans adolescent and focuses much more on the physical. The film takes its cues from Black Swan and often feels like a horror film that conflates two journeys: the journey of becoming a ballerina — an unrealistic, idealized form of feminine beauty — with the journey of being transgender.

Put simply: the film is bloody and obsessed with trans bodies in a way that reminds us that a cisgender person wrote and directed it. It’s trans trauma porn and, as a cisgender person, I’m warning trans people not to watch it and cis people not to fall for it.

The film includes, as mentioned previously, several shots of the film’s cisgender main actor, Victor Polster, staring at a mirror, with Victor’s genitalia on full display. These scenes convey a creepy, voyeuristic obsession with Lara’s body that never loses its ick factor. Rather than focusing at all on the psychology of Lara, the film presents scene after scene of her physicality: she dances and dances, removes bloody tap shoes, uses tape on her genitals over and over (there are about five shots of her taping down her penis), she gets hormone shots. Rather than uplifting Lara, the film almost seems to want to humiliate her and lament her struggle.

To reflect the filmmaker’s own psyche, everyone in the film seems to be obsessed with Lara’s body. Her dance instructor makes a comment about how big her feet are, telling her that she “can’t just cut bits off” to change how she was born. Doctors talk to her about vaginoplasty when Lara first comes in to start getting hormone treatment, focusing once again on surgery and bodily change rather than focusing on her as a whole person.

Frustrated by doctors denying her confirmation surgery, Lara ultimately chooses to take her transition into her own hands, which makes very little sense since we saw her get an explanation of how a vaginoplasty works earlier in the film. But, unfortunately, in a film wholly born from a cis person’s mind, Lara can only further her transition — once again, a process that is not solely physical — through self-mutilation. I’ll be frank, but be warned: Lara calls an ambulance, takes a pair of scissors and cuts her dick off.

As much as the film is focused on Lara’s body, the film still chooses to present a cisgender boy as a young trans girl, even though the film asserts that the character has been on hormone blockers allowing her to avoid a male puberty. The film tries to pass Polster, a feminine boy, as a trans girl. But young trans girls on blockers don’t look like feminine or androgynous boys — they look like girls. Lara has started taking estrogen, and she is frustrated because her breasts haven’t developed. Hormones affect more than breasts, yet the film focuses on breasts and the vagina as the sole things that make a trans girl a girl.

The director spoke to INTO previously about his “gender blind” casting process, but the fact that the film cast a cis boy to play a trans girl is not its sole problem. The film is birthed wholly from the mind of a cis person and employs only cis fascination with trans bodies to tell its story.

Moments of the film do resonate and feel well-wrought. Though the film fails to give Lara a deep psychology, it does hit some resonant notes, especially when it comes to other people’s reactions to Lara’s transness. Lara’s relationship with her father (Arieh Worthalter) is well-rendered and strikes the right chord for any teen-father relationship, especially one where both are going through transitions — her father is grieving his wife and is re-entering the dating world.

Lara also faces several microaggressions, both from strangers and from those she loves. Lara confronts her birth name when her six-year-old brother says it during a tantrum, causing her both to freeze up and also remind him that that’s not appropriate. In another scene, a school sleepover goes awry when classmates force Lara to reveal her penis to them.

There’s no doubt that Girl is an ultimately harmful film. Watching it could not only traumatize and retraumatize trans folks, but also perhaps send the wrong message about transition to trans youth. And, as always, there’s no reason for a film to focus so much on watching a trans person bloody themselves, even if it’s in pursuit of becoming a ballerina.

Just as dangerous as the film’s contents is its context. The film has already won two awards at Cannes and will gain a wider platform this fall, as Belgium has submitted it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as its official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Netflix purchased the film as well, making it easily clickable at any time to anyone who uses the streaming platform. When the film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the almost entirely cisgender audience was horrified by some of the explicit gore on screen but seemed ultimately won over by its depiction of transness, as it conformed to the same flat, one-dimensional storytelling about trans people that cisgender people are accustomed to creating, consuming, and praising.

This cisgender acclaim could unwittingly lead more cis people to mistake the kind of transition the film shows as a universal experience and further ingrain the misbegotten notion that transition is only about a trans person’s body. And, even worse, could lead trans people to watch the film and experience its trauma firsthand.

Girl could have ultimately been a very interesting film about the unnatural processes women go through to achieve an elusive, imagined feminine ideal — the ballerina — via an adolescent transgender girl. But the movie offers little insight into the psychology of adolescence and instead focuses solely on bloodied feet and genitals. Trans people deserve a narrative that dares to treat them as psychologically complex and not one that continues to view their bodies as burdens to be overcome.

Image via Netflix

‘Boy Erased’ Author Garrard Conley On the Big Screen Adaptation, Queer Stories, and Cherry Jones

TORONTO — Having your memoir go from bookshelves to multiplexes is not something that happens every day. It’s even rarer when you’re a queer memoirist whose work details the harrowing experience of surviving conversion therapy.

But that’s exactly what happened when Garrard Conley’s book Boy Erased became a major film with the same title, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Joel Edgerton, who also wrote and directed the film, which hits theaters November 2.

Conley spoke to INTO about what it means to see his story from 2004 get an international audience in the Trump era, what it was like to have Lucas Hedges play him and why we should all stan Cherry Jones.

Were you nervous or reticent about your book becoming a movie and getting such a large audience?

I was terrified, actually, because it’s like, Joel [Edgerton, director of Boy Erased] is a straight guy. So it’s like, “What is he going to do? How is he going to mess it up?” But, actually, I had seen him do promotion for Loving and he equated marriage equality to interracial marriage issues from that time period and I was like, “OK, great,” he’s at least an ally. But I was still kinda distrustful. I don’t have many straight male friends and he actually asked to meet with other survivors of conversion therapy in addition to me for that first meeting and he was very respectful and asking the right questions and I was like, “OK, let’s see where he goes with this.” I wasn’t going to sign anything, because he offered for me to write the script, and I was like, “No way am I going to write my own rape for the screen.” Not going to do that. But if you send me a script, I’ll tell you if it’s insulting or not.

Basically, he was in the grip of the story, kind of obsessed with it, and was calling me saying, “What do you think about this?” and then he sent me the script and, you know, it’s a very different version. He sticks to the tone of my book quite a bit, but he added and changed things, but I thought it was overall the same message that my book was doing. That being said, one of the terrifying things is like — we have so many sad queer stories, do we really need another one? I’m in the camp that I think we need an abundance of stories like, intersectional stories, we need stories that are happy, we need sad ones. In a perfect world, we would have both happy and sad and it would just be there. We don’t live in that world.

So I was like, “OK, obviously this film is going to be marketed in certain ways to appeal to people who like drama, but is that like a bad thing?” And I guess I just weighed the fact that after the book came out, I got so many emails from people who were still struggling with conversion therapy and people who were like, “Your book gave a voice to everything I was going through” and it was on such a massive level that I thought that we need to do something that can reach pop culture in a massive way and actually end conversion therapy and actually show the harm that parents’ decisions can make on a person and these counselors that are basically, you know, internalizing their own homophobia.

So yeah, I had hesitations, I was a nervous wreck seeing it for the first time. I’m still not quite sure I can process things. But I’m here to win that battle. I think we need to end conversion therapy. And even greater than that, we need to have a larger understanding of how bigotry operates in the country. I’m always saying, “You don’t have to be in conversion therapy to be in conversion therapy, you just have to be having a bad coming out experience.” One of the great things that this movie has done for me is that it’s given me access to almost every media outlet and I get to keep repeating these things. There’s people in the middle of the country reading People magazine reading this stuff.

It also enabled me to work on a podcast, it’s also coming out right when the film comes out, with the producers of Radiolab, and we’re like showing the full history of conversion therapy, and we’re going into survivors’ stories. So, I think of all of these projects as different iterations and, in some ways, tonally different outcroppings; it’s branching out from the original source, which is me.


Well, you are obviously an example of what happens when a queer person can tell their story and the ways that it can reverberate. What would be your advice to other queer memoirists who are maybe hesitant to put down their story?

There’s such a larger audience for queer stories than people realize. We’re proving them wrong every day. I’m good friends with Garth Greenwell who wrote What Belongs to You, and I love that book so much and it was a real success. When we were about to publish our books, we were both told by various people that our stories wouldn’t sell because they’re gay. I didn’t listen to it, because it’s bullshit.

But you’re still told that today, and I think it’s really silly. I was at a GLAAD panel the other day, and one of the statistics is that, in youth, something like 30 to 40 percent of people don’t identify as straight. That’s a reading audience in the future, so start now. If you want to be cynical about it, we have a reading audience — don’t worry.

But also we have to tell our authentic stories because the other narrative is so harmful out there. If we’re not doing this work, no one’s going to do it for us. It’s like when Cheryl Strayed in her advice column said, “No one’s going to tell you to write about your vagina.” There was this girl who was like, “No one wants to read my vagina stories!” And Cheryl Strayed was like, “Well no one’s going to tell you to write about your vagina. You have to write about your vagina for your vagina.”


One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever read is to write everyone in your life with love and compassion, even if they’ve done negative things to you. Boy Erased does that so well. Were you nervous that the people you wrote about in your life with empathy and compassion would become villains when translated to screen?

There are two things I was worried about with that. One thing was that we would anger the queer community who have had terrible experiences with their parents and their parents are villains in their stories. So I never wanted it to be this universalizing aspect where like, “Don’t worry, your parents too can be great someday!” Because that’s not always true. That’s very often not the case. So I was very worried about Joel doing that, but very luckily he didn’t.

I think he kept it very specific to my story. That was one thing. The other thing was, I said to Joel, “You’re going to meet my family. Because if you’re going to do this story, you have to know what the South is like and you have to know what they’re like, and they’re not going to be caricatures and we’re not going to do this whole honky-tonk weird thing that Hollywood so often does.” So Joel and Lucas and the co-producer, David Craig, went with me to Arkansas and met my parents. And it was so funny because David Craig is also gay and we went to my dad’s church and everyone thought David was my husband.


Oh my God.

We were sitting there and I turned to David and said, “Everyone thinks you’re my husband right now.” 

A lot of the action in your book takes place in 2004 and then, obviously, the book process takes so long. It was pitched and written during the Obama era and now the film is coming out in the Trump era. I wanted to ask you how it feels to have your story making its impact during this cultural moment.

Right when the book came out, I had a lot of people who were incredulous that this was still going on or had happened in 2004, that conversion therapy was even a thing! They didn’t know about it! Which I find funny, it’s like, how do you not know that people are being tortured in your own country? But there are a lot of really sheltered people. So, I was so frustrated. I would go to the readings and they would treat me like I was this delicate object, like, “Oh, I can’t imagine what you went through” and I understand where that comes from, but it’s like, maybe you should have spent a little bit of time understanding what the LGBTQ homelessness rate is in youth or what it’s like for a queer person to be in these other places and it really pissed me off.

So I would say it at every reading, because I thought it was a great place to say it, I’d say, “Trump could get elected. This could happen.” Because I go back to Arkansas and you don’t — you can see what these people are doing. And they’d be like, “No way, Hillary’s gonna win.” And I do not feel smug about it, because it’s terrible. But I’ve been screaming that from the beginning and now that it’s happened, no one questions whether or not that’s happening. Like, no one. We’re in like crazy detention center-level dystopian fiction level. People’s birth certificates, documents, being taken away from them, it’s insane.

My husband is Pakistani, and that makes for a very interesting time period right now. He has a green card, but he’s not a citizen yet, and we’re just terrified. It’s been, you know, he and I, when we’d go to these readings, we’d be so mad. Because you know, it’s punishable by death to be gay in Pakistan and he’s like, “Of course it’s not over yet. Of course marriage equality didn’t solve everything!” I could go off on that forever, so …


Obviously a lot of people come to the story not knowing about conversion therapy, so they walk away from it having learned about it and how harmful it is. But what about people who already know about conversion therapy and know that it’s bad and see the movie. What’s a theme or message you think the film has for people who are already in that place of recognizing conversion therapy is bad?

And if they’ve watched Miseducation of Cameron Post as well, which is a great film! I think the unique aspect of Boy Erased, for me, is that it shows where it all comes from. You see this family grappling with it and you see these moments where it seems as if Jared could get out of the situation. Like, Cherry Jones sitting across from him, saying like, “What if your parents were wrong?” and him like … “I’m fine.”


It’s kind of like a, “Blink twice” moment.

More Cherry Jones, please!


Literally! That’s the message of the film, I think.

That’s my main criticism. I was like, “Cherry Jones in every scene! Joel, put Cherry in more.”


Cast Cherry as Jared.

I want her in all the roles. That’s what I would have done. What were we saying? I’m on a Cherry Jones tangent.

What makes it unique is that you see the formation of this and I think most of us queer people already know how that’s formed on the ground level, we’ve been through it. But I think it can be a bit cathartic, I hope. I think it’s a tough sit no matter what and being queer makes it even tougher. I try to step outside myself and think, “OK, if I were just watching this movie, I wouldn’t go running into the streets and be like, ‘You have to watch this movie right now!’” I think I would I feel a little scared for people being triggered by it, but I still do feel it plays a very important role in documenting what happened and I think it’s accurate and it can be very cathartic. It was very cathartic for me when I watched it through the last time. I was finally able to be like, “OK, that story is done.” I also think like, Nicole Kidman whispering in a wig is always a good bet. That’s always fun.


This has now become stan territory for Nicole Kidman and Cherry Jones.

She’s just always whispering in a wig! It’s the best thing in the world.

What was it like to sit down and talk to Lucas Hedges about playing you?

Lucas Hedges is probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met. It’s kinda crazy. When we first met in DUMBO, he told me his story. And from the New York Magazine piece, we talked about his fluidity and he — we talked about that and how he felt a lot of shame about his first crush and then he showed me his copy of Boy Erased, which was marked up on every page. Which, like, flattery, you know? I felt like this was one of the most sensitive, real people I’d ever met. And I knew he wasn’t bullshitting me, I could feel that. And he was like scared to do it, because it was touching him, as well. So I immediately knew he was the right person. Like, you have to.

I’d seen him in Manchester by the Sea and I thought he was the best part of the film. When we were on set, it was really hard for me to be on set, as you can imagine. They recreated the entire facility.


Yeah, there were probably a few days that you didn’t come to set.

Where they kept me off set because I was sobbing! The facility was extremely accurate. They had the handbooks there, the actual handbook. And they had, every detail was meticulously researched. So going onto the set was terrible. But, when I would see Lucas on the set and we would just look at each other, it’d be like, “This sucks. But we’re OK.”

And I just, he’s wonderful. He made it ten times better to be there, he’s just the best.

Images by Getty

‘Rafiki’ Was Banned in Kenya and Is Now the Second-Highest Grossing Kenyan Film of All Time

After being banned in Kenya for promoting lesbianism, the Wanuri Kahui-directed romance film Rafiki became the top-performing film at its home country’s box office. Rafiki beat out films like The Nun and Night School and in the process became the second highest-grossing Kenyan film of all time, according to a press release. The film grossed more than $33,000 during its court-authorized seven-day run. After its initial run, the film is once again banned.

Over 6,500 people saw the film in the seven day period it screened in Kenya — and hundreds more were turned away due to full screenings.

“Over a seven day release, Rafiki has experienced a rush at Prestige Cinema only felt before at the Black Panther release earlier this year,” Trushna Patel of Crimson Media siad. “Even though there was limited screen time allotted at the last minute after the court ruling, the film was performing to full house capacity at all shows running, a welcome scene for a Kenyan film.”

Kahiu thanked all those who came out to watch the film. “Thank you for celebrating Kenyan film with us! We are so grateful. As we return to court to argue for freedom of expression, we carry you with us.’’

Rafiki was the first Kenyan film selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, it has screened in festivals in over 20 countries.

INTO spoke with the film’s director at the Toronto International Film Festival. At the time, it had not yet been viewed in her home country of Kenya.

“I really hope that when Kenyans see it, they see that people fall in love the way they fall in love. It’s no different,” she said. “What makes you drawn to a person you can’t explain and it can’t be stopped. I want them to see the process of falling in love and not question it or have it be alien or foreign or corrupt, just the humanity and beauty and simplicity of how easy it is to fall in love with someone else.”

Troye Sivan Talks ‘Boy Erased,’ Internalized Femmephobia, Lucas Hedges, and ‘Lucky Strike’

TORONTO — Troye Sivan has already dropped Bloom, one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and now he stars alongside Nicole Kidman and Lucas Hedges in one of 2018’s most anticipated films, Boy Erased. Erased centers on Hedges’ Jared, who is sent to conversion therapy when his parents find out he’s gay. There, he meets Troye Sivan’s Gary as well as several other people to whom Victor Sykes (played by the film’s writer and director Joel Edgerton) tries to evangelize the virtues of heterosexuality.

Sivan sat down with INTO at the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about what working on Boy Erased taught him about femmephobia and how it influenced the recording of his second album.

I spoke to Joel Edgerton two days ago and he said that he loved your audition video and I wanted to ask you what you put in it.

I read for a different part, actually. I read for Xavier Dolan’s part and it was a big monologue and I really took my time with it before we filmed the audition, to just find the motivation behind everything I was saying and find those beats and those moments where maybe the internal monologue in my head kind of shifted, and really map that out so that it felt natural. We went for different variations and different options and ended up with a take that I was really happy with and just sent it off and hoped for the best.

What do you think spurred your interest to be a part of Boy Erased?

It was the script. That was the first thing that I had read and I later went and read the book and started watching some documentaries on conversion therapy and just kinda doing my research. But after I read the script, I found out that Nicole was attached and Lucas was attached and Russell [Crowe] and that Joel was directing as well as writing the script. I just felt like, you know, that’s a dream crew of people to be making a movie with and I felt like they would handle it sensitively and with care.

Well, it was a very Australian production!

I know, I’m thinking about it today even like, we’re doing a Q&A today and it’s me, Joel and Nicole and we’re all Aussies. It’s awesome.

In the film, your character, Gary, is probably the least convinced that Love in Action works and you give Jared the advice — you flip the mantra, “Fake it til you make it,” on its head. You kind of play the #Resistance, so I want to know what drew you to him.

Well, when I read the script, I remember feeling so tense. The movie was so heavy for me to read and then I read that scene and I was like, “Finally, someone has some sense and is providing some kind of relief.” An alternative, you know? Because if the people you love and care about most, your family, your church, your friends, if they’re all telling you that you have to go through this program and this is the way to “fix” you and there’s something wrong with you, if you don’t have an incredibly strong sense of self, how are you supposed to push back against that? To finally have someone tell Jared like, “Just so you know, you can get out of this and there is an alternative and there’s a whole world out there of people who are going to love and accept you.”

It sent chills down my spine when I first read it and it’s something I’m constantly trying to push in my own personal life. People will ask me, “What’s your advice for young LGBT people?” and I always say, “Even when it might seem like your world is the entire world, it’s not. There are places you can go and people you can meet who are going to be completely cool with who you are and love who you are.” So to have the character represent that mantra in the movie, I was honored to bring that moment to the movie.

In a lot of ways, Gary was the most visibly queer, femme person in the room — hair dyed, nails painted — and I was thinking about how in the queer community, it’s so often the femme people who speak up, but there’s so much femmephobia in the world, they’re often pushed aside. I was wondering if you could talk about that, a little bit.

Well, first of all, for the movie, Joel and I worked together on [Gary’s] backstory and in my head, he’s kind of gone away to college and come out and found himself a boyfriend. He’s dyed his hair; he paints his nails. And he got snatched out of that environment and put in the camp, so you’ve got the rooty blonde hair that needs freshening up, that’s growing out and, I don’t know if you can see it in the movie, but I’ve got kind of chipped nail polish that’s starting to fade away and those were all sort of reminders to me of this other life that he’s lived and the other option. To me, he’s an enlightened person that’s seen the other side and knows it exists.

And then, as far as femmephobia, what’s there to even say? It’s so silly. I will say that I think I definitely had some of that internalized femmephobia from growing up in the closet and being really petrified of it. But now as a 23-year-old, I’m still on a journey of like, realizing that I feel my most powerful and my most empowered and confident when I just let myself be. If that is me strutting around in a music video wearing whatever the hell I want or if it’s me dancing a certain way in a club or whatever. Giving myself the gift of throwing away all of that pressure to be a certain way has brought me so much joy and made me a much more confident person. I think there’s great power in femininity and if you can get over all the societal stuff around you that’s telling you not to be that way, it can be a rewarding and fun experience.

I know you haven’t seen the film yet, but your song “The Good Side” is the first thing people hear. And you were also able to write “Revelation” for the film. Can you talk about the process of writing “Revelation” for the film?

I from day one wanted to be on the soundtrack, to be involved musically on the movie. I was constantly reminding Joel and the producers, “Anything you need, I’ll do it.” They suggested maybe using “Good Side,” so I gave that to them. What I did was I went and wrote five or six songs for the movie and sent them all to Joel. And he was like, “I love this,” but he was deep in editing the movie. And then I went to breakfast with him and Jonsi of Sigur Ros to talk about the music for the film and Jonsi had this piano that he had written for a scene in the film, but…there was no lyrics, no real melody on top of it so we went in and I wrote the lyrics and melody. It wasn’t for a specific scene. We wrote it watching clips from a specific scene in the film, but I really just reflected on the whole script and the whole experience and Jared as a character and where he’s at in his life.

Timeline-wise, did the shooting of Boy Erased overlap with you putting together your latest album, Bloom, and how did they speak to each other artistically?

It’s so interesting because it did. When I started shooting the movie, I was probably 70% done with the album. It was such a change of pace and mindset. This album for me was a moment to celebrate every aspect of my life more than I ever had before. And the movie is obviously about a character that’s being told to do the exact opposite, and I’m really really grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this, especially at the same time, because the contrast made it even more potent. To be able to leave the environment of Boy Erased feeling so heavy and come back to what I’m so thankful to call my real life, which is queer and open and free and just, it was such a nice relief. And then as well, it also gave the album some more weight in my head, because it made me realize just how important it is to tell those stories and be so open about stuff.

Well, that leads right into my next question. Boy Erased is obviously one of two conversion therapy movies coming out this year and we’re seeing, at the same time, more queer artists like you and Years and Years. What does it mean for you as a queer artist to be making music at this cultural moment?

It’s really exciting. I think we have such a long way to go still, but I think we’re making strides in the right direction as far as representation goes. I just don’t think that we can underestimate the power of representation. Growing up I have very vivid memories of the times I saw gay people on TV or the few times that I saw someone that I actually genuinely related to and so, those moments made a real difference for me. And so I want to try to create as many of those moments as possible and tell stories from as many different aspects of the LGBTQ community — we’re such a diverse community made up of so many different people with different stories, different backgrounds. It’ll be nice to represent all of those people.

Your biggest scene is opposite Lucas Hedges. I wanted to ask you about acting with him and playing off of each other’s energies. What was it like sharing the screen with him?

I think he made my life infinitely easier because he’s not just there running lines. He’s there as such a source of inspiration. In the scene, if ever I felt myself becoming self-conscious of myself or my performance or becoming too analytical in my head, all I had to do was look at him. There’s such honesty in everything that he does. Everything feels so tasteful and real. It made it a lot more comfortable to be able to go through that with him. Also, he just has the most cinematic face. I would watch him at craft services and be like, “Are you going to win an Oscar for this? I’m pretty sure you are.”

Right now, most people when they think of you they think of you as a singer, but you’ve been acting for a decade. And I just want to know would you want to pursue more acting roles in the future? What kind of film would you want to do next?

Definitely. I haven’t acted in a really long time. I did it like 10 years ago for a second and now I’m jumping on the bandwagon again. I feel very new to it and it’s an intimidating and very exciting world for me. I’d love to get more involved. It’s a big learning curve, but I’m really curious to see how far I can push myself.

When your album came out, everyone was talking about “Lucky Strike,” and I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the song, because it’s one of my favorites and a lot of people’s favorites. Can you talk about the genesis of that song?

That song came about, it was written by Alex Hope and myself and we worked together a lot on my first album and so it felt like going to see just a friend, basically. And we were hanging out and I wanted to write this cool, kind of cruisey, sexy song about someone that tasted like cigarettes. And that’s just what we did. It was a special day to be able to work with Alex over the years and watch her grow as a producer and a writer and I think, you know, for the two of us to kind of get back together and write something it felt really special.

Boy Erased will be released in US theaters on November 2, 2018.

Image via Getty

‘Rafiki,’ a Queer Love Story Banned In Its Home Country of Kenya, Is a Must-See Film

TORONTO — There’s a moment in Rafiki where the camera slows down as Kena (Samantha Mugatsia), the film’s protagonist, watches Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), the young girl she’s falling for, dance in front of her for the first time. It’s the first time the film plays with the elasticity of time and it’s also the moment you realize just how invested you’ve become in Kena and Ziki, the couple central to the film’s story.

“I wanted us to feel the sense of being watched and looked at, and also when somebody looks at you in love,” the film’s director Wanuri Kahiu told INTO in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. After debuting in May at Cannes, the film was screening at TIFF. The scene is the first time Ziki, the colorful, bewildering love interest to Kena’s more staid protagonist, makes a real play for Kena’s affection. They are on a date far from their neighborhood of the Slopes outside of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

Rafiki is a deeply moving and visually arresting film that should be seen by everyone — but it’s currently banned in the very country where it’s set. Just before its debut in May, the Kenya Classification Review Board banned screenings of the film in Kenya because of its “clear intent to promote lesbianism.”

Rafiki began with Kahiu’s desire to tell a modern love story based on modern African literature. She read several short stories before selecting “Jambula Tree,” by Monica Arac de Nyeko, to serve as the basis for the film because it was “so sweet and so kind and so patient.” From the story, Kahiu took Kena and Ziki as well as another character, the gossipy Mama Atim. Kahiu created the rest of the characters to fill out the story.

And they do just that. Around the two central characters, Kahiu constructed a bitter political rivalry that makes the modern love story feel as classic as Romeo and Juliet. Kena’s father, John (Jimmy Gathu), a local shopkeeper, is campaigning to replace Ziki’s father in a local political office.

Though there are forces keeping them apart, Kena and Ziki are drawn to each other — and it shows. Watching the two characters fall in love with each other is an engrossing cinematic experience, one that easily elicits investment from the viewer. Ziki is a more-than-worthy entry in the pantheon of Manic Pixie Dream Girls throughout cinematic history. Early in the film, she convinces Kena to abandon her small-town Kenyan mindset and imagine more possibilities for herself — a life that includes becoming a doctor and finding love.

“Ziki really challenged [Kena] to think about her own ambition and what she could do,” Kahiu said. “The ability to fall in love is courage, any love is courage. She taught her how to be courageous.”

Rafiki makes the most of its visual medium and offers its viewers a kaleidoscopic world of power-clashing prints and bright hues. And the characters are no exception. According to Kahiu, the two characters’ colors were meant to complement one another as the film progressed.

“From the beginning of the film, they are dressed in opposite colors and then as the film goes on, the color start to complement each other,” she said. “Kena always had touches of African print, either in a swatch of her pocket, or fabric in different ways. And then Ziki, we used, like, more of a pink and purple palette and what would contrast with pink and purple to dress her. We wanted her in colors that are considered very feminine and then we played with the both of them.”

While most films about queer women usually stick to having both women present as feminine, Rafiki’s protagonist Kena is decidedly more masculine — she plays soccer with other boys, while her guy friends hesitate to allow Ziki and her group of fashionista friends to join their sports fun.

The film’s visual language extends far past the two protagonists. Each of the film’s main spaces — Kena’s family’s apartment, Kena’s hideaway in a broken-down VW bus and Ziki’s room — reference artists who influenced Kahiu. Mickaline Thomas, South African visual artist Zanele Muholi and Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu each contributed to the film’s visual lexicon, Kahiu said. She also pointed to recent French films like Melanie Laurent’s Breathe and Les adoptes.

“You felt the love in the films and I wanted to recreate the visceral feeling of ‘in loveness,’” Kahiu said.

Ziki and Kena first express their love physically in Kena’s secret VW bus hideaway, which she refurbishes as a sort of quasi-treehouse queer refuge. Kahiu said it was important to create a space where Kena could feel safe and secure enough to invite Ziki.

“There’s no way she would’ve been able to manage that struggle in public,” she said. “The van was such a natural space for her, so we made it her space. We put touches of her things in it. And we kind of developed it. As the relationship grew, so did that space.”

Homophobia rears its head both subtly and violently in the film. Kena’s own friends make fun of a gay guy in the town and Kena’s own internalized homophobia and fear of social abandonment stops her from fighting back. The gay male character shows up several times in the film and doesn’t speak — rather, he is a presence. After Kena doesn’t stand up for him, he ultimately stands in solidarity with her after the film’s emotional climax.

To see that person who she didn’t stand up for sit with her was incredibly important. He showed the most humanity and he showed the most compassion and love and understanding and it was important to see that she was understood and that there was somebody who knew what she was going through,” Kahiu said. “It was the contrast of her rejection at the beginning and not standing up for him and kind of sort of going along in silence with the way they were taunting him and teasing him and bullying him.”

The film also deals with the homophobia of the church. During a sermon in church, Ziki flirtatiously grabs Kena’s hand during an anti-gay sermon, which leads to the couple’s first argument. The scene shows Ziki’s playful nature in contrast to Kena’s more reserved cautiousness. For Kahiu, including the church was so important because of the fraught relationship between queer people and the church.

“Even when I made the film, the first thing I was told is that it’s against God,” she said. “That’s the first thing that people go to. I felt like I couldn’t make the film without addressing that in some way, so it was important to show that.”

I spoke to Kahiu about the significance of the film playing TIFF just after India decriminalized homosexuality, as both Kenya’s and India’s anti-gay laws have the same root: British colonialism.

“It is colonialism, those are all colonial laws,” she said. At a Saturday night screening of Rafiki, Kahiu told the audience that homophobia is not African, but rather an artifact of colonialism.

I ask her about the moment this film lives in and what she hopes Kenyans who do get to see it — either outside the country or if the ban lifts — should take away from the film.

“I really hope that when Kenyans see it, they see that people fall in love the way they fall in love. It’s no different,” she said.

She added, “What makes you drawn to a person you can’t explain and it can’t be stopped. I want them to see the process of falling in love and not question it or have it be alien or foreign or corrupt, just the humanity and beauty and simplicity of how easy it is to fall in love with someone else.”

According to Variety, Rafiki will come to New York, Los Angeles, and five other cities later in 2018.

‘A Star Is Born’: 17 Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits We Learned at the Toronto Film Festival

TORONTO — It’s no understatement to say that A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut in which the actor stars opposite Lady Gaga, is the year’s most anticipated film. After debuting at the Venice Film Festival, Star made its way to the Toronto International Film Festival this week. At an official TIFF Press Conference, the film’s stars — Gaga and Cooper, joined by Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos, and Sam Elliott — dished on the special magic and synchronicity on set.

The cast also discussed Cooper’s unique vision as a director and Gaga took a moment to comment on the film’s important themes regarding depression and mental health. Here are a few highlights INTO learned while attending the conference.

1. Metallica and Annie Lennox jumpstarted Cooper’s desire to capture the artistry of singing on film.

Cooper said he first got the idea to do a movie from the perspective of the stage six years ago at a Metallica concert. He also shouted out Annie Lennox’s live cover of “I Put a Spell on You.”

“I was looking in the veins in her neck and how pure it was and I thought that’s the best way, if I could put that in a movie,” Cooper said. “Because you can’t hide when you’re singing.”

2. Lady Gaga is not reading the reviews!

3. Cooper whispered the word “Tony,” as in Tony Bennett, to make Gaga feel a sense of warmth while filming scenes.

“I think Bradley is an incredible filmmaker,” Gaga said. “It was such a thrill to act in the environment he created. He operates with such precision and he has such a vision and you can see the gears turning while he’s working, even while he’s in character.”

She added, “He would whisper things to me like ‘Tony,’ or ‘Come on, assassin,’ or ‘Ninja!’” she said. “I had the lines memorized. He told me that the most important thing was to know what I was trying to say, to tell the story that I was going to tell in that scene.”

4. All the actors felt a sense of trust from Cooper.

“He convinced me very early on that he could be trusted,” said Elliott, who plays Cooper’s older brother.

Gaga echoed similar sentiments about the filming process.

“When I got on set, I could just throw it all away and exist in this precise but completely liberating environment. It was not rigid, it was a very artistically free experience,” she said.

5. Dave Chappelle likened the filming to a “jam session.”

“It was like actors having a jam session. It was like a rhythm, it was what you call vibes,” Chappelle said, eliciting nods from Gaga and Elliott. “There was these palpable vibes and I mean, everyone really liked each other.”

6. Anthony Ramos, who plays Gaga’s best friend Ramon, felt completely open playing opposite Gaga.

“When someone is so available, you can’t help but to open up,” Ramos said. “And if you don’t, you’re like a liar. I’m not trying to lie.”

7. Ramos told Spike Lee that Cooper will go down as one of the all-time great film directors.

“The level of focus on set, I would stay on set and watch Bradley work in between takes only because I was like … he’s going to be one of the greats,” Ramos said. “If I’m trying to be where he’s at, I’m going to stay right here in the cut and watch my man work.”

8. Two of the film’s musical scenes were done in one take.

Though people are used to getting several takes during scenes, filming restrictions meant that most of Star’s musical scenes had to be done during one take, as they borrowed time from other artists’ concerts. They shot the opening of the film in eight minutes during a Willie Nelson set and shot the infamous trailer scene at Glastonbury during Kris Kristofferson’s 2017 set — in only four minutes.

“We would start ‘acting’ a lot if we kept stopping,” Cooper said.

9. Cooper had Gaga sing “La Vie En Rose” in the film after seeing her perform the song at a cancer benefit.

That was the first time Cooper saw Gaga sing live.

10. They added a drag bar scene — including Drag Race alums Shangela and Willam — to honor Gaga’s past on the Lower East Side club scene.

Cooper said Gaga suggested Shangela and said, “Willam is like gold.”

“It felt like we were there for two months, [but] we shot there for a day,” Cooper said of the venue created to resemble a New York City drag bar. “It just had this energy and we just soaked it up and I started to spend time with Willam and Shangela and it really became magical.”

“I make the joke sometimes that behind every female icon is a gay man,” Gaga said, as she laughed. “I really wouldn’t be here without the gay community and what they have taught me about love and acceptance and bravery.”

11. Gaga gave Cooper his confidence as a musician.

“From the very first time I met her, we were singing together 10 minutes into meeting. I don’t know how that happened,” Cooper said.

“And I was freaking out over his voice!” Gaga added. “I can’t believe how incredible your voice is.”

12. Gaga spoke about the film’s focus on depression and mental health.

“I think what would be wonderful, not just for artists but for the whole world, is that we intervene early in life when we see people struggling,” she said. “I think that fame is very unnatural and we see that [Cooper’s character Jack] is struggling in this film with substance abuse. There’s trauma. Ally also, I believe, she suffered from depression at the beginning of the film, not believing in herself. I think that it’s important that we guide artists and take care of them on a psychological level as they begin to rise.”

She added, “If we could be more careful with the human spirit, not just for the artist but for everyone. I think that intervening early, teaching people about kindness, teaching people about compassion, teaching people how to reach out and be there for someone, even when they don’t know they’re sad — it might be so deep that they can’t even pinpoint it — I think that that’s very important.”

13. Cooper removed all of Gaga’s makeup during her screen test.

“He wanted no makeup on my face during the screen test,” Gaga said. “He took a makeup wipe and wiped it down my face and I was like trying to trick him with my ‘no makeup makeup,’” she said. “He looked at the makeup wipe and it was all, you know, brown and concealer and he was like ‘Take it off!’”

14. Gaga commented on her upcoming residency and her willingness to act more.

“This film was so special. This entire experience was life-changing. I have never had an artistic experience like this before,” Gaga said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever had a closer artistic friendship with someone as I do with Bradley, an understanding, an exchange.”

She added, “Yes, I’m very excited to act more, but I’m not excited to act more because I’m interested in looking for career moves or what’s going to blast me off to outer space or however people think about it. For me, it’s all about the project, it’s all about the process, it’s all about the work.”

15. Cooper would like to pivot to directing more in the future.

“If I had the opportunity, if a place like Warner Brothers would allow me, that’s all I’d like to do,” Cooper said of directing. “I’ve never been more fulfilled than this process.”

16. Cooper always knew he wanted to tell a love story.

“Movies have healed me my whole life,” Cooper said. “They’ve taken me to places in my imagination, in my life, that without them I would never have gone.”

He added, “Every human being, if they’re lucky enough, they’ve experienced love and the loss of that love in their life, so there’s something very important or potentially important there.”

17. Several of the cast were also members of the film crew.

“The great thing about directing movies is that you get to cast them,” Cooper said. “Half the crew acts in the movie! ‘No, no, you can do it!’ Half the producers are in the movie.”

Header image via Getty

‘A Star Is Born’: How Did Lady Gaga Succeed Where Other Pop Stars Failed?

It’s understandable why some might have assumed that Lady Gaga’s version of A Star Is Born was initially going to be just another pop star vanity project. After all, the self-proclaimed “Fame Monster” has often courted controversy throughout her decade-long career and many of her peers fell at the box office with their own movies faster than Gaga herself at the Super Bowl last year.

Of course, there have been exceptions, particularly back in the ’70s and ’80s, but by and large, even those artists who found recent success in Hollywood these days are rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath as the Oscars. However, that all changed last week when A Star Is Born premiered at the Venice Film Festival, ending with an eight-minute standing ovation.

Critics were quick to celebrate Stefani Germanotta’s starring debut, describing her as “an absolute natural” and suddenly, the idea that an Oscar could soon join the Grammys in her trophy case didn’t seem so crazy after all. While Glitter lacked sparkle and Crossroads lost its way before it even got started, the new remake of A Star Is Born lives up to its title more than any other version that’s come before, transforming Lady Gaga into a glamorous Hollywood icon of old.

It’s clear than that Germanotta has far transcended the edge of glory these days, yet such a transformation didn’t happen overnight. After all, a few kitsch cameos in cult movies like Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For didn’t exactly scream “future Oscar winner,” but Lady Gaga still put her paws up and pushed through anyway, winning herself the role of a lifetime in A Star Is Born.

One of the reasons why Germanotta has already succeeded where others have failed is because she was quite literally born to do this. Sure, most singers are primed for acting on screen — they do it every day in their videos and on stage performances 0- but few have demonstrated such a penchant for theatrics in their work. As far back as 2009, Lady Gaga was already gushing blood over the VMAs stage and in the years that followed, every aspect of her persona was seemingly constructed in the name of performance art.

This alone would suggest that her role as Ally in A Star Is Born might just be another bid for attention, but the truth is that Lady Gaga has long sought authenticity throughout her work too. Few pop stars of her caliber would follow up the likes of Artpop with a duets album full of jazz club standards, but Germanotta isn’t like other more conventional pop stars and this is clear when it comes to her career in Hollywood too.

On paper, A Star Is Born sounds just like any other movie about a singer’s rise to fame, regardless of how successful previous versions have been, but together with director Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga has avoided the cliches often associated with such vanity projects. Most crucial is how the songs haven’t been written just to promote a new album. Instead, each musical number in the film directly serves a narrative purpose and is integrated seamlessly into the story as a whole.

By aligning herself with Hollywood talent like Cooper, Lady Gaga has ensured that A Star Is Born isn’t just all about her, something which other stars like Mariah Carey and Britney Spears are unfortunately guilty of doing in their own film projects. Sure, there are some standard moments where everyone takes a step back, blown away by Gaga’s voice in the movie, but this isn’t all about pumping up her ego. In fact, the one singular reason why Germanotta’s performance in A Star Is Born works so well is how it directly relates to her own life beyond the standard rise to fame.

For someone who became successful early on with a song called “Poker Face,” it’s remarkable how Lady Gaga remains so charismatic on screen without all of her usual stage makeup and outlandish costumes. No matter how much she bares her heart open musically in her lyrics, we’ve never physically seen the pop star so vulnerable as we do here in the role of Ally and it’s truly a remarkable thing.

This willingness to open up for the part is captured in poignant moments throughout A Star Is Born, but the one that might stick with the audience most occurs early on when Ally first meets Cooper’s weary musician, Jackson Maine. Discussing what’s held her back from success in the business before, Gaga’s character reveals that her nose “hasn’t made me so lucky.” Even though she sounds great, music moguls are quick to tell her that “You don’t look so great.”

Maine is quick to accept Ally for who she is, understanding her insecurities without feeding into them further, and this becomes the driving force of their relationship together throughout A Star Is Born. Cute nods to the shape of Ally’s nose recur again and again, cementing the couple’s bond by taking strength in what others might perceive as a weakness and in many ways, these small moments are the true heart of both Gaga’s performance and the film as a whole.

Lady Gaga has admitted since the film premiered that she too has struggled with insecurities like this, sharing similar experiences with Ally in real life before she made it big as well. “Many times at the beginning of my career I was not the most beautiful woman in the room,” she said. Although she might not have written Ally’s dialogue directly, it’s clear that the essence of what’s being said still rings true for her as a person too, providing Gaga with something deeply personal to pour her passion into on screen.

Of course, it might be tempting for detractors to simply argue that Germanotta is playing herself here and with such strong competition from the likes of Glenn Close and Nicole Kidman, there’s a chance that all of this Oscar talk might not come to fruition either. However, one thing is perfectly clear and that’s how Gaga’s role in A Star Is Born remains beautiful both inside and out, far surpassing the efforts of her peers. Whether she will succeed in Hollywood beyond this remains unclear, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Mother Monster herself shows up next year during Oscar night and stands up on stage, living for the applause that she so rightly deserves.

Why It’s Important That ‘Boy Erased’ Stars A (Mostly) Gay Cast

A-list stars like Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron, and Sean Penn have all won Academy Awards for playing LGBTQ roles, but none of them are queer themselves. Progress was made last year when Moonlight became the first LGBTQ movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but once again, most of the cast was predominantly straight. While it’s empowering to see our stories finally receive some of the accolades they deserve on screen, Hollywood still seems reluctant to provide LGBTQ actors with the same opportunities as their heterosexual peers, avoiding authentic portrayals of queerness in film.

However, such erasure will soon be pushed to the wayside by a new movie from Joel Edgerton, appropriately titled Boy Erased. Based on the book of the same name, this early Oscar contender follows the real-life story of Garrard Conley who was pressured into gay conversion therapy at a young age. Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman lead an impressive cast alongside Lucas Hedges in the main role, but that doesn’t mean Boy Erased is purely a heteronormative affair.

Joining this central trio are a number of out performers who have each created their own significant bodies of work that explore the queer experience. Chief among these is Xavier Dolan, an accomplished French-Canadian filmmaker who took the arthouse world by storm when he directed, produced, wrote and starred in his first feature at the age of 20. Australian pop star Troye Sivan will also appear in Boy Erased as another queer patient forced to deny his sexuality in the eyes of God. They’ll both be joined by Cherry Jones, a Tony Award-winning star and David Joseph Craig, a comedic writer and actor who previously worked with director Joel Edgerton on The Gift.

When the film adaptation of Boy Erased was first announced, there were concerns that a straight director like Joel Edgerton couldn’t do justice to this intrinsically queer story, something that is particularly important given the sensitive subject matter. At the time, additions to the cast like Dolan and Sivan hadn’t been announced yet, so these fears weren’t entirely unjustified. After all, representation matters, breaking down stereotypes and social barriers alike for both straight and queer audiences. Botched opportunities like Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall have proved this need time and time again.

Rather than simply ignore such criticisms, Conley actively addresses them on his website, breaking down the reasons why Edgerton is, in fact, the perfect man for the job and how he didn’t actually take this story away from another LGBTQ director. The truth is that no one else had even shown interest in the material before him, and by involving Conley every step of the way, Edgerton fought to ensure that the authenticity of the story would shine through in the final product. Conley insists that his story “is not being straightwashed” and it’s hard to argue with the man who actually lived through the events depicted in the memoir that the film is based on.

However, despite the fact that Conley is “committed to ensuring that the sensibility of the film and much of the cast is queer,” there have also been objections online regarding Hedges’ portrayal of him in the lead role. After all, casting the likes of Dolan and Sivan in a potentially award-worthy film like this is a huge step forward, but does any of that matter if the lead himself is straight? Detractors might argue that if anyone in the young cast is going to receive recognition during awards season next year, it’s likely to be Hedges.

The truth of the matter is that Hedges’ sexuality is unclear. Conley himself admits that he has never asked Hedges what his orientation might be and rightly so. Such questions are hugely invasive, particularly for someone like him who now lives in the spotlight, and as Conley says, “All human lives deserve to be treated with dignity.” What the author does know is that the young star “is meant to play this role. He understands my story, and I have a gut reaction to what I sense will be a fantastic performance.”

It’s easy to see why such casting might still infuriate some people. In a study conducted by Williams Institute in 2013, it was found that 53 percent of LGBTQ interviewees believed that Hollywood directors and producers are biased against queer performers and it’s clear that straight men are still more readily awarded for playing gay roles than gay actors are for the same part. Typecasting is a real issue too and while queer roles shouldn’t necessarily be played exclusively by queer performers, LGBTQ actors deserve to be prioritized until equality is finally reached.

Whether Hedges is straight or not though, the fact that Edgerton has assembled a predominantly queer cast to bring these LGBTQ characters to life is still an admirable feat and one that will hopefully become the norm one day. So far, no actor has even won an Oscar while out of the closet, and even if the likes of Dolan or Sivan aren’t considered this time around, their inclusion in Boy Erased might help this become a reality in the future.  

During an interview with Mic, Conley revealed that a number of gay men from around the world emailed him after the trailer for Boy Erased was released online, explaining that gay conversion therapy had led them to consider suicide. Instances like this remind us exactly why films like Boy Erased are so important and how authentic representation on screen can genuinely inspire the LGBTQ community at large.

Joel Edgerton’s New Movie ‘Boy Erased’ is About Gay Conversion Therapy

Actor and filmmaker Joel Edgerton is no stranger to outliers, cults, and secretsin fact, they fascinate him. In an interview with EW this week, he discussed his new film, Boy Erased, which he co-wrote, directed, and starred in, and why religious fanaticism piqued his interest.

“The film satisfies the dramatic and salacious stuff that interested me, but it also had an emotional resonance to it that I felt didn’t just make it a dark and nihilistic story,” Edgerton explains. “Garrard’s story is so full of redemption.”The “story” in question is that of Garrard Conley, whose 2016 memoir of the same title inspired Joel to adapt the film.

Conley’s memoir describes his time at Love in Action, a Christian “ex-gay” program in California. His Baptist parents sent him there after he was outed during his freshman year of college. In the adaptation, Edgerton takes the role of Victor Sykes, the head of the program, inspired by Love in Action’s real former director, John Smid.

Lucas Hedges, the Oscar-nominated Manchester By The Sea actor, also of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri fame, has been tapped for the lead role of Jared. Out gay pop star Troye Sivan will also have a role in the film as one of the other boys in the conversion program, with Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe as the lead character’s parents.

Above all, the Red Sparrow actor wants to portray each character honestly and imbue them with compassion, just as Conley did. “[Conley] has a deep compassion for other people’s point of views,”he says. “My approach and treatment of this story was that there were no villains, that everyone thought they were doing the right thing.”

Kidman, too, is approaching the role from a point of understanding, hoping to find humanity and love in a parent who would put their child through such a harrowing and traumatic religious program. “The way in which she and her husband feel about putting [Jared] into conversion therapy, I wanted that to come from a place of a mother thinking it’s the right thing to do,” she reveals. “Nothing that she did was vindictive, which is probably why they have such a strong relationship now.”

Boy Erased hits theaters September 28.