By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
One thing you might not expect from watching the trailer for The Miseducation of Cameron Post, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning dramedy about queer teens trapped in a conversion camp, is how well it’s able to take itself seriously while still being really charming. Unlike newer LGBT films that feel saturated in flashy pretentiousness, trendy indie pop or weird-ass sex, The Miseducation of Cameron Post feels grounded in reality without ever seeming corny or needlessly artsy. With her second film, director Desiree Akhavan has created a script and an environment in which the dialogue is authentic, the emotions are relatable, and the characters feel more like humans than stereotypes.
The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz in her best role yet as Cameron Post, a high schooler who is sent to a conversion camp called God’s Promise after she’s caught with another girl on prom night. There, she befriends the other campers like Jane (American Honey’s Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck), overcomes obstacles the camp staff put in their way and discovers more about her own sexual identity. The simplicity of the story is where the screenplay shines brightest, as the dialogue always feels realistic and the characters feel honest. The film is essentially just about teenagers being themselves in a setting where they’re not allowed to do so, and it’s told in a way that is beautiful and sincere.
All of the acting is great, especially John Gallagher Jr. as Reverend Rick, a “converted” man whose inner emotional conflicts are shown through subtle facial expressions and intense acting that is heartbreaking to watch. There may be some scenes where side characters feel like they get a little too much screen time, but the performances are great and the themes of the film never get lost, so it doesn’t feel that distracting. While it isn’t mind-blowing, the cinematography is still exciting and flows in a way that holds onto the audience’s attention. And while sometimes certain scenes rely a little too much on the 90’s relevance of the soundtrack, the songs picked for the movie are still really good and fun.
In a culture that feels like everything needs to overdramatic or broken to be inspirational, a film like The Miseducation of Cameron Post feels refreshing. It simultaneously shows LGBT characters in conflict in this camp, but they never lose their spirit and always show confidence in their own sexuality, which is a great thing for other LGBT youth to see. It’s a funny, devastating, and inspiring film that never relies on melodrama to feel sincere.