Being a teenager often sucks. We have all been there and there are plenty of movies that remind us how awkward and difficult that stage is. But being a homosexual teenager is probably even more distressing, and even worse is being a homosexual teenager forced to go to conversion therapy to get the so-called ‘evil, sinful thoughts’ out of their head. That is what The Miseducation of Cameron Post is all about and it is a harsh indictment of ultra-religious Christians who inflict this punishment on their children.
The opening shot we see hands on a book that says ‘Holy Bible For Teens’, a very apt signal of what the film entails. From there we meet our title character played by Chloe Grace Moretz who gives one of her finest performances here as she conveys so much emotional depth and turmoil with just her eyes and subtle facial expressions. The use of silence in this performance is something to behold. The story takes place in 1993 Minnesota and she gets caught at a school dance by her boyfriend in a risque position with a female classmate. Her guardians (her biological parents are not in her life) send her to a Christian gay conversion camp with other teens and that is where the majority of the film takes place. The Miseducation of Cameron Post never really shows any of the adults in the film other than the ones that are important to the Christian camp which is a smart decision. This film is about teenagers and it focuses on the teens treating them with respect, empathy, and in a mature delicate manner similar to the way John Hughes portrayed teens in his films. That tender touch favors The Miseducation of Cameron Post as we follow the story of a confused teenage girl on her path towards self-discovery. I also really liked seeing Sasha Lane who was terrific in her debut lead role in American Honey (2016). Sasha Lane continues to have a great screen presence and I hope this leads to more great work from her.
For the most part, it is a solid film that follows the daily routine of a young girl undergoing brainwashing by a conservative Christian camp. There are moments and lines of dialogue that stand out such as a line about children paying for their parents, and a line where Cameron Post shouts out that the camp is “programming children to hate themselves”. There are also two great scenes that really spoke volumes in terms of Chloe Grace Moretz’s acting. One involved her crying under a desk in the dark holding a phone while everything outside the desk was well lit. The other was the final shot, a long take that was with her and two of her best friends presumably driving away, possibly escaping, the conversion therapy camp as they look off on the road behind them as they head forward on the road. The Clinton/Gore 92 bumper sticker was maybe a bit overkill but reminds us when the scene takes place and that they want liberal leadership for the nation to help the next generation find their way.
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