Prom -a glamour-filled, memorable night, anticipated by a majority of high schoolers over the course of their high school careers. But when Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught having sex with another girl in the backseat of a car during the dance, prom night gone astray is more like a guilt-filled nightmare and sentencing than a magical night filled with friends and dancing.
Disturbed by the scandal, Cameron’s evangelical aunt / legal guardian immediately ships her off to a youth conversion camp in order to aid her “same-sex attraction.”
The Miseducation of Cameron Post dives into the world of conversion therapy and had me hooked from beginning to end. Although Cameron’s journey is set in the early 90’s, the issues addressed are still incredibly present, even in our more ‘progressive’ 2018 communities. The original teen movie, based on Emily M. Danforth’s novel of the same name, reminds audiences that the fight for equality and universal acceptance is ongoing and dire.
A gloomy shadow is constantly cast over God’s Promise. The children attend regular therapy sessions, classes, and sermons led by Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle), her “successfully treated” brother, Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.), and her various colleagues.
Generally, conversion therapy is seldom mentioned or talked about in popular entertainment. The Miseducation of Cameron Post humanizes a side of the LGBTQ+ struggle on all sides, unlike any other coming-of-age story.
The internal struggle and visible pain of characters like Rev. Rick, who claim to be “cured” by Marsh’s experimental, healing methods, transcends the façade and treatability put forth by God’s Promise. Director Desiree Akhavan ingeniously humanizes these characters and adds an unprecedented depth to the world of conversion therapy through this emotional journey.
Marsh leads the camp with an iron fist. She constantly keeps the students in check and enforces certain expectations, but isn’t afraid to take action when she sees it necessary. She even ruthlessly shaves a student’s hair off at one point, when she finds his long hair disrespectful and distracting.
While her behavior is evidently cruel, it is also clear that Marsh does not see the faults in her actions. Marsh genuinely cares about her students, but clearly does not comprehend that her methodology is immoral and only instills a deep, self-hatred within the students, rather than self-acceptance and growth.
It is easy for liberal-minded individuals to deem those who may not see eye-to-eye as ill-willed and evil, but Akhavan brings the complexity of opposing perspectives to the forefront of the film through the depiction and personal struggle of Reverend Rick and Dr. Lydia Marsh.
Cameron stumbles upon an unprecedented community and forms close relationships with her fellow gay outcasts during her time at God’s Promise. Despite the institution’s attempts to alter and rewire the adolescents’ innate attractions, Cameron uncovers a new sense of strength and resilience within her own being.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post seamlessly hybrids an undeniable sense of humor into the heartbreaking circumstances that unfold in this teen film. The must-see story is a deeply complex, coming-of-age story that brings these pressing, unspoken, and neglected issues to light.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this past Sunday, April 22nd.