THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST (2018)
Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Jennifer Ehle, Sasha Lane, Quinn Shephard, Marin Ireland, John Gallagher Jr., Owen Campbell, Forrest Goodluck, Kerry Butler, Emily Skeggs, Christopher Dylan White, Dalton Harrod, McCabe Slye, Dale Soules, Melanie Ehrlich, Isaac Jin Solstein, Andre Blake, Spencer List and Steven Hauck.
Screenplay by Desiree Akhavan & Cecilia Frugiuele.
Directed by Desiree Akhavan.
Distributed by Film Rise. 90 minutes. Not Rated.
Homecoming 1993 in small town America is held in the school gym, with teen awkwardness and hormones in full gear. Cameron (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) is caught making out with her bible-study buddy Coley (played by Quinn Shephard) in the back seat of a car.
Cameron is sent to God’s Promise by her evangelical aunt, Ruth (played by Kerry Butler), to remove the sin from her heart. God’s Promise is a boarding high school for teens with SSA (same sex attraction). It is run by Reverend Rick (played by John Gallagher, Jr), an SSA convert, and Dr. Lydia Marsh (played by Jennifer Ehle).
The students wear uniforms, attend classes, and eat in a cafeteria. However, at this school there are many similarities to an inpatient psychiatric setting. They attend solo and group “therapy” sessions. They work on self-actualization by figuring out the underlying issues leading them to having SSA on their “iceberg” worksheets. There are bed checks through the night. Decorating and mail are rights to earn at God’s Promise, depending on treatment progress.
Moretz is really good in the role of conflicted Cam. Always cautious, you can see the wheels spinning in her head as she assesses the situation for the right thing to say. There is a part of her that wants to “get better,” because she loves her Aunt Ruth (her caregiver after Cam’s parents passed away). Another part of her that just does not buy into the program.
The story is predictable when you already know that gay conversion therapy is crap and causes psychological/emotional damage. From the first group session at God’s Promise, I started wondering, okay, who’s gonna fall? Like Dead Poet’s Society, you can sense the other shoe about to drop.
Will it be Cameron’s roommate Erin (played by Emily Skeggs) trying to “Blessercise” (no seriously, jazzercise for Jesus… it was a real thing… Google it) to keep her body strong to fight the sin of SSA?
Will it be Mark (played by Owen Campbell), a voice of balance and reason, who asks questions without flinching at the answers, is nearing his end time at God’s Promise and ready to return to home? Or Dane (played by Christopher Dylan White) the brooding, angry teen who feels like his experience is unrelated to the others?
Trust that it cannot be Jane (played by Sasha Lane) or Adam Red Eagle (played by Forrest Goodluck), who help Cameron to stay true to herself and forge their own support system.
When Cameron is asked if she trusts the staff at God’s Promise, she beautifully questions the system. She trusts the staff to drive the van safely, but doesn’t trust their program, while alluding to the emotional abuse they are being subjected to.
It is an interesting perspective – there does not appear to be truly bad intent on the part of Dr. Marsh and Rick, just the misguided belief system of evangelical true believers. Their basis for care seems to be “well, it worked for Rick, so it will work for you.”
In a powerful scene, we watch Rick try to provide support to the teens, but with no real answers to their questions and without the clinical expertise or care plan in place. As an SSA convert, you can see Rick scrambling with his own emotions about the situation and the teens are left without the support that they need.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a fascinating glimpse of a world that today’s clinical society has proven to be false and damaging. I wish that I could say that it is historical fiction and could never happen in our more enlightened time. With the current political climate and the unchecked power being given to the evangelical community, this is an important and interesting film that should be watched as a cautionary tale. I’m adding the 2012 book by Emily Danforth to my reading queue.
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 17, 2018.