The Miseducation of Cameron Post | Desiree Akhavan | Tribeca 2018
Director Desiree Akhavan’s sophomore feature, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, is adapted from author Emily Danforth’s acclaimed teen novel of the same name. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the titular Cameron, seemingly an average high school girl until she is caught cheating on her boyfriend with her a girl, her friend, Coley Taylor (Quinn Shephard) during a school dance set in 1993.
Cameron’s aunt Ruth (Kerry Butler) is a devout Christian and horrified by these developments sends Cameron to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy center for teenagers, run by the non-nonsense Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) and her brother Rick (John Gallagher Jr.).
It’s there that Cameron and other young adults are taught why they are engaging in these sinful behaviors and that it’s something that can be taught or corrected. She finds solace in the friendships that she makes there with fellow classmates Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck), who are basically faking it to they make it, that is just going along with the flow so that they can someday get the hell out of there.
We’ve seen Chloë Grace Moretz grow up in front of our eyes and although she’s had some memorable roles already, this is the first truly great leading performance of her career. The actress is given a ton to do in a role that offers her a chance to show of great dramatic range and play with a ton of tough emotional scenes that she pulls off with ease.
Equally engaging are the supporting characters played by Lane and Goodluck, as well as Gallagher Jr., and other students such as Erin (Emily Skeggs) and Mark (Owen Campbell). Like Cameron, we slowly but surely grow attached to all of these unique personalities and become heartbroken when they do and suffer questionable “lessons” at this camp. It’s telling that even their Reverend Rick, their teacher, actually had to go through the very same thing that they are experiencing now and you can see the inner-torment that he experiences having to pretend that he is someone who he isn’t.
The novel was adapted to the screen by Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele and is done so with a ton of thoughtfulness and heart that allows it to be lovingly put onto the screen. That’s not to say that it doesn’t hit you in the heart in an equally devastating manner. But the film finds a good balance of and heartbreak and hopefulness, providing a message to those struggling to be themselves, to realize it’s ok and to also bring awareness to these horrifying conversion centers which still exist today.
While still very early in the year, The Miseducation of Cameron Post has emerged as a moving and touching viewing, one that we are sure will stick with us throughout the year.