There’s a sense of urgency to The Miseducation of Cameron Post whereby the audience is thrown into a prison of sorts and remains trapped with the tale’s protagonist who, like us, can’t wait to escape. Now, this isn’t your regular kind of prison, it’s actually a “gay conversion therapy” program whereby under the settings of a religious environment teens are taken away from their families and encouraged to suppress their homosexual tendencies (deemed evil by the church) and thereby in the process exorcise the core of their persona.
The film, based on Emily Danforth’s 2013 novel features a fantastic performance by Chloë Grace Moretz as Cameron along with a top notch script by Desiree Akhavan (also directed) and Cecilia Frugiuele which manages to go a step beyond what is expected as we see the leaders in the program in glimpses to be torn themselves as to just how effective it is. It’s refreshing to note that some of these do-gooders have consciences as others most certainly do not.
As has been proven throughout the years, pop psychology mixed with religion is no match for someone’s sexual orientation and thus these sessions and communities mainly punish their LBGT+ subjects with threats of going to hell thereby leaving them with a sense of shame, guilt and further loneliness. Already outcasts when they arrive, what works so well in the film is that these pseudoscientific “therapy” centers accidentally have created a sense of community where many of the subjects have never experienced one.
There’s plenty of drama but there’s also a dark sense of humor as these teens manage to find ways to both laugh at themselves and at their situation. It’s clear that everyone involved with the project took it seriously and that’s why there’s an infectious energy to it that should translate well critically and to the audiences who see it. These camps are still a problem throughout the U.S. and continuing to show the absurdity of them will only decrease their power – so not only do I encourage you to see this fine film – but also to spread the word!
UPDATE: This film won the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize!!!
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READ MORE FROM THE 2018 SUNDANCE GUIDE:
Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl. But after she’s caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off to a conversion therapy center that treats teens “struggling with same-sex attraction.” At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious “de-gaying” methods, and earnest Christian rock songs—but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community. For the first time, Cameron connects with peers, and she’s able to find her place among fellow outcasts.
Writer/director Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior) and co-writer Cecilia Frugiuele sensitively adapt Emily Danforth’s acclaimed eponymous coming-of-age novel and create a refreshingly original teen movie. Balancing out inherent drama with understated humor, The Miseducation of Cameron Post looks at a teenage girl grappling with pain and loss, but at the same time, she is creating a family on her own terms and learning what it means to empower herself by having confidence in her own identity.
Desiree Akhavan is the writer, director, and star of Appropriate Behavior, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for best first screenplay. She co-created and starred in The Slope, and she is currently filming a series in London for Hulu and Channel 4 that was developed at Sundance Institute’s Episodic Story Lab. Akhavan received a BA from Smith College and an MFA from NYU.
Cast & Credits
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Screenwriter: Desiree Akhavan / Cecilia Frugiuele
Based on The Novel By: Emily M. Danforth
Executive Producers: Desiree Akhavan / Olivier Kaempfer
Director of Photography: Ashley Connor
Editor: Sara Shaw
Principal Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz / Sasha Lane / Forrest Goodluck / John Gallagher Jr. / Jennifer Ehle