The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
Directed by: Desiree Akhavan | 91 minutes | drama | Actors: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr., Quinn Shephard, Kerry Butler, Emily Skeggs, Owen Campbell, Christopher Dylan White, Steven Hauck, Dalton Harrod, McCabe Slye, Dale Soules, Marin Ireland Melanie Ehrlich, Isaac Jin Solstein
‘Winter’s Bone’; ‘Like Crazy’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, ‘Fruitvale Station’, ‘Whiplash’, ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’, ‘The Birth of a Nation’, ‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’… No film titles that attract the masses, but definitely beloved and popular titles for people who like to join the ‘film lovers’. What do they have in common? They are the winners of the Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) at the Sundance Film Festival, the largest and best-known independent film festival in the United States. All these films quickly found their way to the public thanks to this deserved award, but ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’, for which director Desiree Akhavan received this honorable award in 2018, had more trouble finding a distributor. After countless screenings at international film festivals (in the Netherlands, for example, the film was programmed at the Leiden International Film Festival), the film seems to be snowed in on offer. And that’s a shame, because the film, based on the novel by Emily M. Danforth, tells a gripping and still topical story.
The main character of the film, Cameron, lives with her Aunt Ruth. Her parents are deceased. Cameron was raised a very religious person and we meet her during a Bible study, in which the leader informs the group of teenagers that adults are constantly trying to atone for the sins they committed as children. After the meeting, Cameron cycles home with her friend Coley. The two begin kissing, then events shift to Cameron’s prom. The girl looks as awkward as can be in her over-the-top makeup and pretty dress, but Coley’s presence makes it just a little more bearable. Too bad she’s with her boyfriend and Cameron is of course with a boy who wants to impress her.
That boy is the one who catches Cameron and Coley in the clichéd backseat of the car during the party – and from that moment on, Cameron’s life is turned upside down. Her aunt decides that the only solution to this intolerable behavior is for Cameron to go to a religious institution where young people are “cured” of their homosexual thoughts. And that’s where ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ really takes off.
God’s Promise is led by Pastor Rick (John Gallagher Jr.). He was once a gay boy himself, but healed with the help of God. His sister, Lydia March (the ever-reliable Jennifer Ehle), is like him deeply convinced that they want the best for the young in their care. The way is not always loving, but for the authorities there is no reason to believe that the children are being mistreated. However, the (emotional) damage that is done is enormous.
‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ excels in acting, which is subtle and believable. Not only Chloë Grace Moretz is good at portraying the title character, but so are supporting actors Sasha Lane (as Jane), Forrest Goodluck (as Adam) – the two youths with whom Cameron most connects – and Emily Skeggs (as Cameron’s roommate Erin). know how to turn their characters into real people, with whom it is easy to sympathize. This is despite knowing that these three characters don’t really lose themselves in the conversion practices of God’s Promise. However, the film shows in a radical way what happens when children do go along with it. “Homogenezing” is still not banned in many countries, even in the Netherlands – at the time of writing this review – therapists are still active.