Cameron Post is like any other high school student. Carefree and in the throes of a whirlwind teen romance full of friendship, stolen glances and plenty of lust. Except in this instance, it isn’t the boyfriend she attends prom with who she has eyes for, but rather her best friend.
Chloë Grace Moretz puts in a career best performance as the titular character in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, conjuring up moments of teen confusion, dejection and forthright certainty with sublime subtlety. Cameron is presented as a young person who is very aware of who they are and what they believe, but finds their self – like too many LGBTQ youth out there – being convinced by older, prejudiced adults that there might possibly be something wrong with them.
How Chloë approaches this uncertainty is strikingly heartbreaking as you can almost see the inner turmoil flit through her eyes in moments of desperation.
It’s 1993 and after getting caught making out with her prom queen bestie in the back of a car, Cameron is sent to God’s Promise by her aunt Ruth (Kerry Butler). It’s a remote treatment centre based in picturesque forestland outside Miles City, Montana, and as she’s greeted by Reverend Rick (John Gallagher, Jr), Cameron fully realises the trouble she’s in. A simple “fuck” is all that’s required to really feel the gravity of her situation.
The teen has been sent to a “conversion therapy” facility where young people are taught “appropriate gender roles” and are “re-educated” with the aim of making them heterosexual by the time they leave. Unsurprisingly, considering the name of the camp, religion forms the backbone of the “re-education” and John Gallagher, Jr plays the insufferably smile-over-the-cracks “former gay” Reverend Rick with pitch perfect precision.
You can’t help but despise the guilt and doubt he plants into these young people’s heads, convincing them with brainwashing nonsense that what they are feeling is wrong, or who they are is unnatural. Where the sympathy creeps in, however, is when you realise that he himself is a victim of this, having been “cured” by his psychologist sister Dr. Lydia March (Jennifer Ehle).
Dr. March is the Trunchball of the camp; stern, imposing, and emotionless even in the most extreme of circumstances. She’s the type of psychologist who twists insecurities the young kids have, spinning their confusion into oppression. The results of this, unsurprisingly, are devastating for some of the more vulnerable victims at God’s Promises – and there are scenes in this film that will leave you feeling hopeless as these youngsters go to extreme lengths as a call for help.
Cameron quickly surrounds herself with like-minded friends Jane Fonda and Adam Red Eagle at the facility, portrayed superbly by Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck. They’re savvy to the guff that is spouted to them on a daily basis, quickly seeing through the uselessness of filling out their ‘iceberg’ and ultimately challenging those in charge. “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” Cameron asks, as she realises the charade she has been inducted to.
Unfortunately, like those who have been subjected to this barbaric form of “therapy” in real life, that recognition doesn’t come until after too much damage has already been caused.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post – based on Emily M. Danforth’s 2012 novel of the same name – comes at a vital time. As the UK government pushes forward to outlaw the type of practice on display here, and more and more states across the US continue to make it illegal, Desiree Akhavan’s film is starkly important, showcasing the unspeakable destruction “conversion therapy” has had on our community, and why we should never let this happen to our children ever again.
Gay Times gives The Miseducation of Cameron Post – ★★★★★
Watch Gay Times’ interview with Chlöe Grace Moretz about The Miseducation of Cameron Post below: