The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Desiree Akhavan's witty and heartfelt coming-of-age drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a potent study in teenage alienation and anxiety
The Miseducation of Cameron Post opens in 1993, Montana. The titular Cameron Post (Moretz) is getting ready for prom, where she'll be caught making out with a female friend in the back of her date's car resulting in her being sent away to a gay conversion camp to "pray away the gay".
Writer-director Desiree Akhavan has spoken at length about growing up without a queer John Hughes film and the influence of 80s teen cinema is all over... Cameron Post, from musical cues to prom dresses to the group of social misfits Cameron meets in the camp. While Akhavan's filmography indicates a desire to explore queer female sexuality – ...Cameron Post's sex scenes are beautifully composed and make up the film’s emotional core – the film is more generally an exploration of teenage alienation and anxiety.
Arriving at the camp, Cameron meets her fellow “disciples” – the other kids who have been sent to the camp – as well as the camp leaders; mustachioed Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr), who himself has been "cured" from SSA (Same Sex Attraction), and icy camp leader Dr Lydia (Jennifer Ehle). Rather than cast the leaders as the film's villains, Akhavan is more interested in characters' shades, as Cameron and Rick strike up something close to companionship.
Moretz’s quiet confidence grounds the film as she plays against type giving a sad, reserved performance. Her one goofy moment is when she bursts out in a sing-along to 4 Non Blondes’ What's Up, leaping on the kitchen counter, potato peeler as mic. It’s the film’s standout scene where we get a glimpse at an alternative timeline where Cameron and her campmates are allowed to act their age.
“How is teaching us to hate ourselves not emotional abuse?” says Cameron in a scene towards the end, speaking about the camp and, by extension, society. It’s a question that belongs to the 90s and to today.
Released by Vertigo