A montage of flailing attempts to ‘diagnose’ homosexuality is only the beginning of the fun that Desiree Akhavan has with the cluelessness of conversion therapy in her sophomore feature The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Continuing her acclaimed first feature Appropriate Behaviour’s comedic and frank exploration of desire, Cameron Post does away with the previous film’s twee-Brooklynite atmosphere to look at how familial bonds can become brittle from systemic oppression, and how this oppression creates self-hatred.
Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz, crushing it in the best role she’s had in a while) is sent to a gay conversion therapy centre after being discovered with her girlfriend. Cameron’s emotions and conversations with the other teenagers at the camp drive the narrative, but this meandering structure feels effective, as she shuffles through the rituals of the camp in a haze of growing self-doubt over her desires. The final moments are beguiling and create a great sense of uncertainty, but the final act feels somewhat robbed of time – though that may well be the point, and something that makes more sense on a second go.
Continued attempts at suppressing the identities of the camp’s attendees only create deeper trauma that Akhavan never lets us forget about, even among the film’s expertly timed, wonderfully delivered comedy. This tension can always be seen bubbling under the surface for many of the painfully earnest supporting characters we encounter throughout the film. Both parties are belittled by terms like ‘SSA’ (‘Same Sex Attractions’), as if the camp is some kind of therapy ward and not a useless juvenile prison.
While it becomes somewhat more conventional in the last act, the The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a unique work that has a lot of fun with its malevolent premise, without undermining the damage that such oppression and repression can cause.
CAST: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle
DIRECTOR: Desiree Akhavan
WRITERS: Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele
SYNOPSIS: 1993: after being caught having sex with the prom queen, a girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]