Review by Jacquelin Hipes
Unassuming and quietly funny, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a lovely showcase for Chloe Grace Moretz, along with her co-stars Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck. In this 90’s-set drama, high schooler Cameron Post (Moretz) lives a closeted life. By her own admission she doesn’t necessarily identify as gay—or straight, or anything other than “human”—but prevailing attitudes lead her to keep a budding romance with her friend Coley (Quinn Shephard) a secret. After Cameron’s boyfriend discovers the pair making out at the school’s homecoming dance, her aunt immediately bundles her off to gay conversion therapy packaged as a sleepaway camp.
There she meets fellow participants Jane Fonda (Lane) and Adam Red Eagle (Goodluck), as well as her roommate Erin (Emily Skreggs) who may emphasize her burgeoning heterosexuality a little too much. Altogether, at least two dozen teens go to school, attend worship services, and undergo therapy with program director Reverend Rick (John Gallagher, Jr.) and his sister, therapist Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle). In her first treatment session Cameron is instructed to label an iceberg: literally all of the problems beneath the surface that may have led to her sin of same-sex attraction. Jane and Adam offer some helpful tips for completing it; neither takes the therapy seriously nor has any desire to change who they are, but they’ve learned how to give the right answers to stay out of trouble.
How the trio copes with and reacts to the patent absurdity of gay conversion therapy imbues the film with some powerful moments of pathos, as well as a healthy dose of uncomfortable humor. I say uncomfortable because while (hopefully) all those in the audience recognize the callous closed-mindedness of “treatments” like the one Cameron is subjected to, these programs really exist. Now. Today. Director Desiree Akhavan, who co-wrote the script with Cecilia Frugiuele, never undercuts the important message of Miseducation by taking on the preachy tones of Reverend Rick. Moretz, Lane, and Goodluck all have sufficient room to simply react, their camaraderie and persistent faith in themselves all the message this film needs. It’s an important reminder of the basic humanity we all share, and the continued need for compassion in a diverse world.