by Philip Clarke
High school is a hard time for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz). Growing up in the 90s, she’s had to keep her sexual orientation a secret from both her friends and family for her entire life. After getting caught with her girlfriend on prom night, Cameron is sent to a gay conversation therapy camp by her guardians, in the narrow-minded hope that one day she’ll be cured of all her ugly sin. Which as ridiculous as it sounds is all the more awful when you realize that even though this subject matter is based on a book, it’s also something that happens in real life.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post documents her frustrating and wholly misguided time at God’s Promise. Jocular Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and his icy sister Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) run the camp with a bone-chilling false-niceness that gets immediately under the skin from the very get-go. The authoritarian sibling duo are not outwardly or physically aggressive upon first blush, because they don’t need to be.
It’s the passive aggressive guilt-tripping that the siblings are so good at performing that makes them the most effective kind of abusive villains. So as to try and help get through the utter garbage that is this experience, Cameron bonds with fellow burnouts Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forest Goodluck) by taking camp approved “gender-neutral hikes”. In newfound friendship solidarity, the trio smoke weed in the woods via protest. Some of the best scenes in the film are these small but powerful character moments.
As the titular role of Cameron, Moretz shines throughout. Her performance is real, honest, genuine and completely raw. She carries the film squarely on her shoulders, and for good reason. She’s always had some serious acting chops from when she first burst onto the screen as the pint-sized, foul-mouthed killing machine Hit-Girl in 2010’s Kick-Ass. While her breakout comic book role is easily her most well-known, it’s her performance here as Cameron that’s hands down one of her best.
Co-writer/director Desiree Akhavan skilfully tells the story with a maturity and a mastery of control and understanding. The film is perfectly paced, funny when the audience needs a laugh, and downright blood-boiling when both you and the heroes are entirely helpless to do anything about their current situation. The film will undoubtedly make you fume with anger as its supposed to. This one will really truly hit home.
Simply put, it’s a very difficult film to watch, but it’s also one that’s important to experience and be talked about in broader circles, because representation truly does matter. Some movies are made to be purely fun escapism, which can sometimes be rather forgettable. Then there are others that have something meaningful to say with a point to get across, no matter how harsh, which you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is of course deservedly one of the latter.Calgary International Film Festival, Chloe Grace Moretz, Desiree Akhavan, Emily M. Danforth, Forest Goodluck, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr., LGBTQ, LGBTQ2SIA, Sasha Lane, The Miseducation of Cameron Post