Life is already complicated for a teenager; between dealing with family, school, insecurities, and self-discovery, life can be a mixed bag of confusion. However, for Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) there’s one thing she knows for sure: she is gay. Unfortunately, this comes to the disgust of her family, friends and prom date who accidentally finds her in the backseat of his car with Coley (Quinn Shephard), the prom queen. Taking place in 1993 and living with her religious aunt and uncle after the death of her parents, Post is quickly shipped off to a gay conversation camp (God’s Promise) where she soon learns it’s the blind leading the well-sighted.
Before the success of marriage equality, gay characters in the media, the internet, and transgender bathrooms, Cameron Post is alone in a society that keeps telling her that she needs to be “fixed” in order to lead a happy and normal life. However, this “happy and norm” may come at a cost she’s not willing to pay.
Based on the Emily M. Danforth’s novel (of the same name), Desiree Akhavan and her Behavior writing partner Cecilia Frugiuele create a surprisingly delightful film that juggles heartbreaking relationships with witty child-like moments.
A watered down One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, God’s Promise is located in upstate New York where fake smiles (including the counselors) hide miserableness and raging hormones are a sinful sign. Despite being taught to hate herself, Moretz plays Cameron with an air of skepticism but openness that allows herself to emotionally connect with fellow campers who just want acceptance from their peers.
Joining Moretz is Helen Showalter (Melanie Ehrlich) who is told to believe her sinful sexuality is related to the desire to be a perfect singer. Erin (Emily Skeggs) who plays Post’s roommate believes her same-sex attraction is a sinful byproduct of bonding time with her dad. Unlike Post, Erin is desperate to get everyone to take the camp seriously in order to gain acceptance from the outside world.
Despite the light tone of the movie, it never shies away from the mental and emotional damage of gay conversion therapy. Jennifer Ehle as Dr. Lydia Marsh is sinister but also misguided as she forces psychological tactics onto the campers in hopes of saving them from a life of cruelty. Using the kids’ words against them, she is able to tap into their fears in order to manipulate them. By her side is Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) an already fragile man who describes himself as “lost” until his sister saved him. Trading gay bars with guitars and God there’s an unspoken heartache as he too struggles to accept his unfulfilled life. The most memorable story belongs to Mark (Owen Campbell) who mentally collapses under the weight of trying to please his father despite being deemed a success story.
It’s easy to dismiss The Miseducation of Cameron Post as a “gay movie” for the LGBTQ+ at first glance. However, this is a movie for anyone who has never felt good enough, struggled with insecurities, or forced themselves to hide any part of their personality.
Filled with passion and heart The Miseducation of Cameron post draws it strength from every character, dialogue and moments of silence to remind its audience that sometimes your true self is your best self.