The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Chloe Grace Moretz has really transitioned nicely from the little girl in Kick-Ass, to a talented young lady who does interesting work. Even though I hated the Louis C.K. movie (which nobody saw because of, well, you know)…she was good in that.
In this, she plays Cameron, who is sent by her legal guardian to a gay conversion therapy camp after she’s caught in the backseat of a car with a girl. At “God’s Promise,” the religious folks try to brainwash the kids into believing what they do is a sin. Director Desiree Akhavan (who co-wrote) smartly understates a lot of what is going on, and doesn’t just make the adults a bunch of idiots. Surely believing you could “change” someone that is gay is dumb, but it was interesting to not make them all villains. There is one woman, Dr. Lydia Davis (Jennifer Ehle) that rivals Nurse Ratched, but…there’s also a guy there that genuinely seems to care about the kids. He even gets emotional when Cameron asks him some tough questions he can’t answer. And in a phone call to her guardian, it’s rather touching how that goes, because it’s obvious this person cares for Cameron.
At the camp, she becomes friends with a few kids. One is a weird girl that thinks it was her love of sports and following football with her dad that made her this way. The two people Cameron becomes closest with are Adam (Forrest Goodluck) and Jane (Sasha Lane, who was the only good thing about the movie American Honey). They sneak off on hikes to smoke pot and talk about the ridiculousness of their situation. That’s probably a lot more therapeutic for Cameron than dumb “iceberg” project she’s given.
When I mentioned liking the understated way things were done, about half way through, I started wishing that wasn’t the case. Many of the characters were a bit underdeveloped. I also felt there needed to be a bit more conflict. Just having the administrators catching kids making out, or getting strict on a certain point, wasn’t enough. Now, there was one really, really powerful scene that will stay with you long after you’ve seen the picture. It also reminded me of a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
It had nice touches of humor that worked well. One of those occur after Reverend Rick (John Gallagher of Newsroom) tells a story about his sex conversion journey, that took place at a gay bar. The way the teens joke about it later is very amusing.
The movie did win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year, and it’s getting critical praise.
I’m going to give it an extra star for a good use of songs in the soundtrack (especially the 4 Non Blondes).
3 stars out of 5.