Teenager Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught getting hot and heavy in the backseat of a car with her school friend Coley (Quinn Shepherd) by her conservative guardians. The discovery leads to Cameron being shipped off to a gay conversion therapy centre, God’s Promise, run by Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle). As Cameron is told to pray the gay away, she starts making friends with the other kids at the centre and comes to terms with her sexuality.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is directed by Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour) who wrote the screenplay with Cecilia Frugiuele based on Emily M. Danforth’s novel of the same name. For the film, the characters have been changed to be a little older (Cameron was only 12 in the book) but the main sentiments of the story remain. Opening with Cameron and Coley exploring their sexuality secretly, the two girls’ short-lived romance comes to an abrupt end when they are caught having sex. There’s no discussion with Cameron before her guardians send her off to God’s Promise and she’s forced to ‘repent for her sins’.
Upon arrival Cameron learns that Reverend Rick is the example all the kids should aspire to. He’s a man that believes he turned his back on homosexuality thanks to the teachings of God and the help of his sister Dr. Lydia Marsh. Cameron soon finds that none of the other kids take the place seriously and she watches in a mixture of horror and fascination as her room-mate Erin (Emily Skeggs) insists she’s not gay but spends her time obsessing over a workout video with an attractive female instructor.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post does a little too much skirting around the premise for my liking. The film captures a snapshot of time but I don’t feel it really gets under the horror of what gay conversion therapy can do to people. In the second half of the film, one of the kids commits a desperate act but other than that, the experience here is fairly tame. Cameron goes through cycles of getting upset and wanting to go home, but she once she starts bonding with Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck) her focus shifts to escaping.
Chloë Grace Moretz gives a strong performance, as I’ve come to expect from her. She makes Cameron a likeable character that you root for and she’s especially good in the more emotional moments of the film. I didn’t feel the other characters were fleshed out as much as they could have been. Sasha Lane is under-used as Jane and there was further the film could have gone with Emily Skegg’s Emily, who is clearly desperate to embrace her homosexuality.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an interesting film but I feel Akhavan could have dug a lot deeper than she does. This feels like a very surface level exploration of gay conversion therapy. The emotion and conflict that underpins Cameron’s experience is never fully explored and the supporting characters never get the opportunity to add very much. The relationship that homosexuality and religion have is a fascinating one and I wish it had been delved much deeper into here.
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Quinn Shephard, Sasha Lane, John Gallagher Jr., Forrest Goodluck, Emily Skegg, Jennifer Ehle Director: Desiree Akhavan Writer: Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele (screenplay), Emily M. Danforth (novel) Certificate: 15 Duration: 91 mins Released by: Vertigo Releasing Release date: 7th September 2018