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The Miseducation of Cameron Post tells its timely coming-of-age story with wit, compassion, and an affecting overall generosity of spirit.
All Critics (166)
| Top Critics (33)
| Fresh (144)
| Rotten (22)
The climax, when it comes, is devastating, its effect amplified by the understatedness of everything that surrounds it....Akhavan may have a light touch but it packs a punch.
Smart, amusing and engaging.
[Post] is anchored by a strong performance by Chloe Grace Moretz.
A timid drama with a passive voice that doesn't align with the importance of its subject matter.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a modest-size film that performs a service opposite to that of Conversion therapy: It respects the vulnerability that accompanies the emergence of any young person's sexuality.
Akhavan keeps the camera locked on Moretz's face; every time you think she can't possibly go closer, she does. But it's the definition of a female gaze.
Subtle yet entirely absorbing, Desiree Akhavan takes aim at religious bigotry in her expertly crafted film
A good movie about the sobering reality of gay conversion schools and camps.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post serves as a beacon of light for anyone struggling with aspects of their lives and proves that being true to yourself is the only way to live.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an understated and quite powerful film that is sensitive towards all of its characters, is remarkable in how inclusive it is, has great performances and has welcome acerbic humor that made me laugh out loud at times.
Though the subject matter is dark and often horrifying, [director Desiree] Akhavan's approach is funny, measured, and deeply affirming.
[Director Desiree] Akhavan has delivered another smart, sensitive film about a queer protagonist - although one best suited to a slightly younger audience than Appropriate Behaviour.
Equally effective if not as lofty as the similarly themed Boy Erased. The Miseducation of Cameron Post seeks to highlight the overwhelmingly negative effects gay conversion therapy has on those subjected to it-both mentally and physically. Unlike the Joel Edgerton film though, director Desiree Akhavan tends to underplay the heavy drama of it all and instead keeps the more serious, more dramatic elements of the story balanced with a surprisingly strong sense of humor and comedy. This isn't the heavy drama one might expect it to be given the subject matter, though it does go to pretty severe places, but instead of focusing solely on this aspect Akhavan and her actors are very clearly going for a rawness that favors a kind of broad honesty over precision of tone.
That isn't to say one film is better than the other-I actually liked them equally for very different reasons-but The Miseducation of Cameron Post certainly finds its distinction through the authenticity of its character's impulses it operates on and within. Whereas a film like Boy Erased finds a single aspect on this topic it's discussing and tells the story through that lens (a great way to make a movie, mind you) Cameron Post more desires to make this experience of a conversion therapy camp in 1993 something of a universal experience; fitting a topic not often discussed into the template of a coming-of-age film and therefore lending it a universality that will force a wider audience to acknowledge the cracks and hypocrisies in the system.
I'll also note here that the film is able to verbalize a feeling I've had for some time, but could never properly communicate:
"I guess every time I pray I kinda feel like I'm being phony."
"I think everybody can feel like that sometimes. I also think that those are moments where it's really important to lean back on your faith and trust that that'll take you forward."
"I don't think I really have any faith. At least, I don't really know how to go about getting it...or if I really want it."
For this I will forever be indebted to the film. I will also always be beholden to the film for reminding me Celine Dion's "Where Does My Heart Beat Now," is a song that exists.
For anyone who has seen But I'm a Cheerleader, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is pretty much a remake by way of dropping the John Waters kitsch for a Sundance-bait aesthetic. Chloe Grace Moretz knocks it out of the 90's mega-church with her portrayal of a young girl sent to a "pray the gay away" camp for wayward gay and gender dysphoric youth. After being caught in a car making hanky-panky with her same sex BFF, her crushed prom date sniffles, defeated as a man boy, while her family reacts by sending her off to conversion therapy camp.
Things go as one would expect in a place like this. You have dweeby Christian youth group types pseudo-psychoanalyzing children, probing their insecurities and unsureties about how they perceive the world and how the world perceives them, then gaslighting them with whataboutisms, clunky metaphors, and the almighty, pervasive fear of Sin(TM). All the while the stewards of the camp have so much cognitive dissonance mixed with naivete mixed with improvisational rationale that you can't help but feel bad for all of the parties involved. For anyone who has lived outside the confines of ideological imprisonment for the totality of their lives, it will come as no surprise the degree of hypocrisy and misinformation inherent to faith-based approaches to social programming. But as a person who grew up in the faith, witnessing the clash between idyllic metaphysical dogma and the way the world actually functions, this movie was a bit of a stomach punch at times.
As far as I can recall into childhood, I knew that there was a vast world out there where foreign ideas and foreign people were existing. I could conceive of the fact that those folks probably had vastly different concepts about life, Earth, and the Universe than I did, so I always found it strange when I was told that a 2000 year old book had all of the answers to life's questions in it. I totally bought that magic was real, and people came back from the dead, and fire came from the sky to wipe out bad people. But the idea that past all of that chaos there is a moral order to it? That there's essentially one single ethical pathway to the good life? I could tell THAT was bubkis.
There's this dynamic shift in the conversation in this film. Someone asks a question to Cameron, and she can't respond or says "I don't know". The questioner then takes that opportunity to assert themselves either by rebuking her or correcting her or leading her to some predetermined conclusion they had constructed before asking. In a clinical bubble, ideology can seem firm and resolute, and those who wish to impose control on others will always use the smoothest ideologies to coerce and incapacitate. When taken out of that space though, the reasoning falters, and even the arbiter of that ideology will lose their choke-hold on so-called "truth".
So instead of spending time trying to fit yourself into a construct, or fit a construct to you, or impose that construct on others, maybe just let it be and enjoy the world and its people while you still can? Not being a shitty person really helps with that, regardless of faith.
BUT I'M A WORSHIP LEADER - My Review of THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST (2 1/2 Stars)
The winner of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, clearly indicates to me that altitude sickness is real up in Park City, Utah. How else to explain the prize going to a film as wan as this one? While I appreciate the serious approach to the difficult subject matter of Gay Conversion Therapy, I'd much prefer to watch its goofier predecessor again, 1999's flawed but adorable BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER, than sit through this joyless slog.
Director Desiree Akhavan, who made her feature debut with the terrific APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, along with co-writer Cecilia Frugiuele, tells the story of Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young teen who in 1993 gets caught making out with her best female friend in the back seat of a car and is sent off to a Christian Camp called God's Promise. The goal is to squelch her "struggle with same sex attraction". Run by the camp's version of Nurse Ratched, Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle), along with her brother Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) who is her number one ex-gay success story, the camp uses prayer, group therapy, shame and deprivation to change a person's sexual orientation. It's ugly stuff and all conveyed with stern, hushed smiles and strong coercion.
Cameron meets the other kids, a glorious who's-who of young actors who have already made their mark in other films and theater, such as Emily Skeggs (FUN HOME) as her roommate Emily, Forrest Goodluck (THE REVENANT) as Adam, a kid taunted for his long hair, and AMERICAN HONEY'S breakout star, Sasha Lane as Jane, a pot-smoking free spirit. It's a terrific cast, but everyone is directed to deliver as little energy as possible. This is the quietest movie I've ever seen about anything gay!
Clearly Akhavan has made a stylistic choice, perhaps to distance herself from the campy tone of CHEERLEADER or most funny gay movies, but we're left with something beautiful but flat and all too precious. Cutting through it, however, is Moretz's performance, which walks a fine line between rebelliousness and respect for her elders. She has self-possession by the truckload and I am loving watching her develop as a world class actor. I found myself dying for her character to lash out at her oppressors, but the film stays grounded, too grounded in my opinion, in reality, which means its truthful yet kind of boring as hell.
I acknowledge that people put through the hell of conversion therapy deserve a serious story on the subject, especially considering how the therapy has led to suicides. It's as if Akhavan made the right movie on the subject, which means it can't be too entertaining by nature. It's a tough position to be in when making a film on such a hot button issue.
Despite this, I respect this film. I respect its focus on the minute-by-minute experience of these camps, it's consistent tone (despite my wariness with it), and that wonderful, long GRADUATE-esque final shot. I thought Gallagher Jr. did a fantastic job with his tricky role, especially when Moretz tells him he's making everything up as he goes along. Perhaps the film won over the Sundance jury because of the issue being handled in such an adult manner. But dear God, even oppressed teens have a little more spark in them that this!
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