Sensitively adapted from Emily Danforth’s acclaimed coming-of-age novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post delves into the strange and often confronting world of gay-conversion therapy for teens in religious America.
Set in 1993, high-school teenager Cameron Post is caught by her boyfriend on prom night in the backseat of a car sexually entwined with a female friend. As her parents died at a young age, Cameron has been raised by her religious Aunt Ruth who, after discovering what happened, sends her away to a remote ‘treatment centre’ called God’s Promise. Here, Cameron is welcomed by Reverend Rick (a ‘reformed’ homosexual) and Erin, her new roommate and fellow ‘disciple’, who at first appears to truly believe in the centre’s mission, but, as we soon discover, is still battling a deep internal conflict.
Her days become filled with a restricted routine of mundane chores, overbearing Christian rock (which can occasionally be quite catchy), mandatory group counselling and confronting therapy sessions run by Reverend Rick’s sister (and curer) Dr. Lydia Marsh, a psychiatrist and the founder of God’s Promise. Despite all the obvious negatives of the facility, Cameron soon discovers an unlikely gay community within its walls, allowing her to finally find a supportive and accepting self-made family.
Cameron appears to merely drift through the day-to-day activities at God’s Promise that aim to rid her of her SSA (same-sex attraction) not fully participating but also not fully rejecting them either, until finally an incident involving the suicidal self-harm of a fellow ‘disciple’ wakes her up to the bizarre and immoral reality of the situation.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post provides an interesting insight into a world foreign to the majority of us; an environment where emotional abuse through questionable gay-conversion therapies are the everyday norm. Director Desiree Akhavan (who also co-wrote the screenplay) doesn’t overwhelm the audience with an obvious criticism, but rather allows the harmful dramatic reality to grow organically (combined with an understated humour) until both the audience and Cameron see the facility and its managers for the dangerously misdirected beliefs they represent.
Although not full of famous names, the cast is made up of talented young actors with Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Carrie) portraying main character Cameron. Normally full of energy, this is a much more reserved and subtly portrayed personality for Moretz to inhabit and she plays the part well. Emily Skeggs is a standout within the supporting cast as the internally-conflicted Erin, whose inability to accept her true sexual self is tragic, while Jennifer Ehle frighteningly portrays the controlling Dr. Marsh who’s terrifying in her determination to rid the vulnerable teens of their SSM.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a refreshing take on the teen ‘coming-of-age’ genre that will capture not only its audience’s curiosity, but also their hearts as they witness these teenagers struggle with a forced sexual identity pitted against who they truly are.
The film will be released in selected cinemas on September 6th.
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Header Image via Rialto Distribution and trailer via FilmRise Releasing.