by Annette Lordereau
Chloë Grace Moretz stars in Desiree Akhavan’s touching coming-of-age film that manages to be both funny and important
“Maybe you’re supposed to feel disgusted with yourself when you’re a teenager.”
This is what Cameron Post, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, hears from her friend Jane after they are scolded again for having committed the crime of being their fun-loving, teenage selves.
Cameron has been sent to a gay conversion therapy institution called “God’s Promise” after being caught kissing another girl in the back of her boyfriend’s car. Her religious aunt seems convinced that this is for her own good.
The self-righteous staff believe they are on a mission to save the children from themselves. They use, and misuse, psychotherapy in an insidious, manipulative way to slowly lead the “patients” to feel deeply ashamed and hateful towards their sexuality, their beliefs, themselves.
Writing on her “iceberg”, Cameron tries to figure out how she was led to sin. Was it her athleticism, was it her parent’s death?
She tries to pray the gay away, but she doesn’t really know if she believes in God. She tries to take part in more “feminine activities”, “feminine sports”. She tries to force herself to be attracted to boys, and the audience sees how every attempt to deny aspects of herself is more and more destructive. We see Cameron become insecure, doubtful and sad.
The institution shown in the film is not one that physically torture people with electric shocks, but Cameron, and the audience, will be the witnesses of a traumatic incident which will lead to the realisation that abuse is not necessarily physical.
This film showed an institution that is the symptom of a society that seeks to correct what it perceives as abnormalities, and does not question what is right or wrong, as long as it is acceptable. It is set in 1993, but these institutions still exist in many countries, even supported by US vice-president Mike Pence. They are however set to be banned in the UK.
The young and promising Iranian director, Desiree Akhavan, induces emotion and reflection. Her film, based upon the novel by Emily M. Danforth, is not action-filled, but I believe that despite the gravity of the subject, it is very funny.
If see The Miseducation of Cameron Post, do not feel discouraged to laugh – along with Cameron – at the hypocrisy of some of the characters and at the pointlessness of it all.
Age rating: 15