Film review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

A quietly beautiful and thoughtful film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows a teenage girl as she is forced into a gay conversion therapy camp after being caught fooling around with her female best friend.

Sep 06, 2018, updated Sep 06, 2018

God’s Promise – run earnestly by Dr Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) and her “successfully” converted brother Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr) – attempts to “cure” young people of their “SSA” or same-sex attraction. This is done through group and one-on-one therapy, as well as other exercises and sermons.

The self-assured and inexorable Cameron (Chlöe Grace Moretz) finds a sense of community among her fellow LGB young people and develops kinships with outcasts Jane and Adam, portrayed by the fantastic Sasha Lane (American Honey) and Forrest Goodluck (The Revenant).

The Miseducation of Cameron Post screenplay is adapted from Emily M Danforth’s young adult novel of the same name, by filmmaker Desiree Akhaven and co-writer Celia Frugiuele, and the film is respectful in its portrayal of the young characters around whom the story is set.

It is reminiscent of the writing of John Marsden (the Tomorrow series) and John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles) in its honest portrayal of teenage sensibilities, and does not expect too much of them emotionally, as many young adult stories do.

The narrative is complicated and controversial, but the light undercurrent of teenage wit keeps it from becoming a rant about the horrors of gay conversion therapy; instead, the film presents a compassionate journey of self-discovery through the vulnerable state of teenage sexuality.

Möretz (The 5th Wave, Carrie) is dynamic as the titular character, with Cameron Post a departure from the big-budget studio film direction in which her career seemed to be headed. The depth she finds in Cameron is wonderful, and she is endearing to the audience as a sounding board for her fellow campmates as they discover their own truths.

The team teaching duo of Lydia and Rick Marsh are complex humans. Their attempts to steer the children towards God and away from the “sin” of homosexuality are misguided but done without malice, and the actors’ soft touch gives the film a great sense of humanity.

Original music composed by Julian Wass perfectly encapsulates every element of the film; it contains the youthful exuberance and rebelliousness of teenagers, as well as the strict structure of the camp, but remains a calm backdrop as it blends into the picturesque Montana hinterlands in which God’s Promise is set.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a thoughtful film that asks questions but doesn’t demand answers. It is quietly beautiful, just like the character is herself.

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