by Lauren Means | photo courtesy Taylor Sprow/FilmRise
If you have ever been a teenager, you will appreciate The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Desiree Akhavan’s Sundance Award Winning film, based on the young-adult novel by Emily Danforth, takes us on a journey into one teen’s brush with a conversion therapy camp. The film follows Cameron Post, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, as she navigates life after being caught with her girlfriend Coley (Quinn Shephard) in the backseat of a car on prom night.
Taking place in 1993, we follow along with Cameron as she questions everything she knows and gains insight into her true self. After that fateful prom night, Cameron is shipped off to a “treatment center” that claims to help people struggling with same-sex attraction, or SSA as they refer to it. Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) runs the center and she touts Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.), a counselor at the center, as a true example of how one can be “cured” of their SSA.
Cameron cultivates relationships with other teens at the center, and through her, we learn of their stories and struggles. She develops close relationships with two members of this community of queer youth, Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck). The trio interacts as a family with their sarcasm toward one another and comfort when dealing with the turbulences of life.
Through personal reflection exercises, group therapy, and one-on-one sessions, the teens are guided to find what caused their homosexuality. They are told that their gender confusion is a symptom of a bigger problem. In order to assure the teens this is what is best for them, they are told things like “Your success or failure is entirely in your hands,” and “You know I’m doing this because I love you.” Queer or not, these are all statements we can remember being told as adolescents when adults were trying to tell us the best path to take to live our lives.
Although this story takes place twenty-five years ago, the threat of conversion therapy is still a very real issue being faced by many people today. There are only 14 states in the United States that have laws barring conversion therapy. Miseducation, while bringing awareness to these so-call “treatments,” doesn’t reflect on how extreme these “therapies” can be. In its defense, this is a story focused more on the main character than the actual act of conversion and it has captured some of what may be experienced during conversion therapy.
Miseducation is a film that can be appreciated by anyone who has navigated the ups and downs of teenage years. From feelings of awkwardness, trying to fit in, sexual awakeness, and moments of self-reflection, it succeeds in reminding us of what it is like on the journey to embracing your truth.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is now playing at Belcourt Theater. For more information and showtimes, visit http://www.belcourt.org/events/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post.3187422
For more information on the Miseducation of Cameron Post, visit https://www.campostfilm.com/