The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of two films this year that focuses around a teen forced into a gay conversion camp. The fact that we need not one but two of these films to make a point about where we are as a society politically, says something very disturbing and telling about the world we live in.
In rural Montana in the early ‘90s, Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught with a girl in the back seat of her date’s car on prom night and is sent to God’s Promise, a gay conversion camp, by her evangelical Christian aunt. After arriving, she bonds with other teens who, like her, are there against their will, and begins to study the behavior of the residents (“disciples,” as they’re referred to) and those who run the establishment. Cameron and her friends live day to day in this waking nightmare doing what they must to survive.
Moretz has never been this good. She’s done quite a lot of work for an actress of her age, but this is her first performance that suggests she might have an Oscar-winning turn in her. This film will no doubt be overshadowed come Oscar time, but I think it’s good enough to be part of the conversation, and her nuanced performance is mostly why.
John Gallagher Jr. and Jennifer Ehle play Reverend Rick and Dr. Lydia March, the people in charge of God’s Promise. Rick describes himself as “ex-gay,” and that he was “cured” by the lessons they teach. Lydia rules with an iron fist. Neither of these people is physically abusive, but their behavior and neglect is nothing short of terrifying. Both actors turn in chilling performances. Sasha Lane, from the summer’s Hearts Beat Loud is also a standout.
There are moments when “Cameron Post” attempts to lighten the dreadful mood with a joke, and they’re most welcome. But this film does not shy away from the horrifying realities faced by teenagers that are put in this position. Even today places like God’s Promise exist, and children are taught that there is something inherently wrong with them, and they need to be “fixed.” This is heartbreaking, powerful stuff that doesn’t pull punches. It’s harrowing and eye-opening and I hope it can be seen by those that really need to learn something from its message.