The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Within moments of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, battle lines have been drawn and the hero and enemy neatly distinguished. The titular protagonist (Chloë Grace Moretz), a gay teenager living in a religious and conservative town in Montana, is pitted – perhaps unsurprisingly – against religion, in its guise as a repressive and prohibitive force. Despite this rather clumsy beginning, however, the dynamics of the opposition are subtly explored later on. With the adolescent’s secret disastrously revealed, she is sent to a remotely located faith camp called God’s Promise, which aims to convert her to heterosexuality. Here she obviously meets other people in the same position as her, as well as those thought by their parents to be too feminine. It is through her interaction with these characters and even the camp’s co-director Rev Rick Marsh (John Gallagher) – who has been “successfully converted” – that the theme of the story truly unfolds.
Namely, this is the confusion and angst of adolescence, well-portrayed here, and a purported celebration of diversity. It may be, however, that the recent panoply of films about teenage turmoil (think Midnight Sun, Freak Show and Love, Simon) has caused a distinct method to emerge. Forbidden love is all the rage. Still, the main character’s specific struggle with her homosexuality – as she oscillates between defiance to the therapy and doubt about the validity of her same-sex attractions (as they are referred to) – acts as an analogue for the more generalised struggle of becoming that constitutes growing up. Perhaps the most poignant line in the whole film comes from Cameron’s friend Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane), who notes that “maybe teenagers are meant to feel disgusted with themselves” in response to the protagonist’s urge to accept the treatment.
All this emotional upheaval works well because it is rooted in reality. At the most intense moments of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, there are no dramatic music or epic speeches, but just the normal sounds of sobbing, the creaking of shoes or the rustle of clothing – all of which are actually amplified disproportionately. This honesty about the most tragic moments of life – that they are not accompanied by anything special, and that they can happen at any time – is convincing, and allows for some strong anchor points for the rest of the feature, which unfortunately does not hold its strength consistently. Weak acting from supporting roles (although Moretz is good) and a self-righteous virtue-signalling undermines the legitimacy of the movie’s message, but overall its point is still made.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is released nationwide on 7th September 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Miseducation of Cameron Post here: