This film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival. It’s 1993 and Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) looks the part of a perfect high school girl. But after she’s caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, Cameron is quickly shipped off, by her aunt, to a conversion therapy centre that treats teens ‘struggling with same-sex attraction’.
We’ve already had this debate, haven’t we? Christian-inspired gay conversion therapy does more harm than good and more importantly, it doesn’t work. So why bother to go see The Miseducation of Cameron Post? Because it’s loaded with terrific performances all around and, under the skilful stewardship of director Desiree Akhavan, it’s a well-crafted story steeped in poignancy, melancholy and simple truths.
At God’s Promise, ‘gender confusion’ is weeded out by ‘ex-gay’ Rev. Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and his psychologist sister Dr. Lydia Marsh. There’s Blessercise on the boob tube for Christians who like to work up a sweat, and mail and room-decorating privileges are granted based on one’s willingness to come to God. Besides assembling a great cast, Akhavan demonstrates fine instincts in catching the nuances and subtleties found in unguarded moments as Cameron and the young charges say what they need to get by but show what they’re really feeling. This unusual setting provides Cameron with an unlikely gay community. For the first time, she connects with peers, and she’s able to find her place among fellow outcasts.
Moretz delivers a really solid performance in the role of Cameron as she struggles with identity and conflict, including the possibility that Rev. Rick may be right. And there are just so many great supporting performances, among them Gallagher Jr. as Rev. Rick, portraying a man deeply divided in spirit and Jennifer Ehle, who’s chilling perfection as the clinical Dr. Marsh, radiating beatific joy but more than capable of invoking God’s wrath on the intransigent. Sasha Lane combines insouciance with soulful eyes as the rebellious Jane Fonda and Forrest Goodluck demonstrates poise and spirit as Indigenous American Adam Red Eagle. There are occasional moments of irony and humour with Emily Skeggs providing some comic relief as Cameron’s converted (but conflicted) roommate Erin. Owen Campbell’s tortured performance as effeminate Mark is sure to put a lump in your throat.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall