Program 35: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Based on the best-selling novel by Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of the most critically-acclaimed films in this year’s festival.
It’s 1993, and Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass, Carrie, Let Me In) seems to be your average, everyday high school girl. But when she’s caught in the back seat of a car with her girlfriend on prom night, she’s shipped off to a Christian gay conversion therapy center that helps teens who are “struggling with same-sex attraction.” While it seems like a surefire way not to cure these kids is to surround them with other kids just like themselves, the sister and brother team that runs God’s Promise (Jennifer Ehle and John Gallagher Jr., both giving great performances that make these would-be villains feel almost sympathetic) are adept at gently pointing out the flaws of their attendees and listing all the possible reasons they ended up this way: Erin watched too many Vikings games with her dad; Helen didn’t fall for another classical singer, she fell for her perfect pitch. “How is programming people to hate themselves not emotional abuse?” Cameron asks, in one of the most poignant lines in the film. The saddest part of it all is that most of the kids believe these bogus “causes” and want to change, because what teenager doesn’t want to fit in with everybody else?
Cameron resigns herself to do what she must in order to complete her sentence and go home. What she doesn’t expect is to find a handful of friends, a misfit clique of sorts that includes Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane, American Honey), who hides weed in her prosthetic leg and smokes it in the woods, and Native American Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck, The Revenant), whose tribe believes in “two-spirit” personalities. Along with Jane and Adam are several other kids, each dealing with his or her own demons, and the result makes for a nice mix of regular kids struggling to be who they think they’re supposed to be.
Co-writer and director Desiree Akhavan – who also wrote and directed the 2014 ImageOut favorite Appropriate Behavior – uses a very gentle touch, never beating us over the head with messages or even opinions. There’s enough humor to keep things from becoming way too heavy, thankfully. We feel like we’re eavesdropping, often wanting to scream at the kids that they’re absolutely fine just the way they are. The best we can do is hope they figure it out for themselves
— Georgia Beers
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- GRAND JURY PRIZE, US DRAMATIC – Sundance Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline San Francisco Int’l LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION, CLOSING NIGHT – Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Tribeca Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Maine Int’l Film Festival