'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' Film Review - Boy Erased Is Going To Have A Hard Time Topping This
By Jack Dignan
The world can be a little mad sometimes. People can be a little cruel. Being who you are has never been easy, and the films of 2018 are continuing to fight for those who need it. The latest in this long string of movies is The Miseducation of Cameron Post, adapted by Cecilia Frugiuele and director Desiree Akhavan from the novel of the same name. It’s a powerful and brilliant piece of cinema, making it one of my favourites from this year’s Sydney Film Festival. And I’m excited to rewatch it in the form of Boy Erased during my TIFF coverage next month…
The titular character of Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) was raised in a strong catholic family. But on the night of her prom, she was caught making out with the prom queen, an obvious betrayal of her family’s beliefs. Enraged and disappointed in what their daughter has become, they send Cameron off to a gay conversation therapy center run by Reverand Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and his sister, Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle), where she’s forced to stay until she sees God’s light and banishes her sins.
Watching both this and BlacKkKlansman back to back was a perfect depiction of just how shitty this world can be. While set in 1993, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a film targeted at the now. We have, thankfully, begun to move beyond this point in time, something that can’t quite be said for the unsettling but unforgettable message at the end of BlacKkKlansman, but the story still manages to ring true. It’s an earnest, timely and emotional story of a teenage girl’s struggle to find acceptance.
Akhavan and Frugiuele’s screenplay is taut, perfectly paced and tonally perfect. There’s a strong balance of serious, hard hitting drama, infused with the necessary emotion to make this narrative work (especially during some of the more shocking third act events), mixed together with a light hearted sense of humour that eases the mood. I was shocked at just how funny this movie can be. These characters are aware of how shitty and ridiculous their situation is, and being human beings, they often cope with the pain through humour. It’s the way we, as people, work, making this script feel very natural.
Akhavan’s craftsmanship and dedication to the story goes beyond what’s typically expected from a director’s second film. I haven’t seen her first film, but in terms of directorial skill, it’s a leap ahead akin to Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins. She gets the best out of her lead performers, especially Chloë Grace Moretz who gives what’s possibly her best performance to date. There’s a controlled nuance to the way she delivers her lines, acting subtext and control to each delivery. Her initial interactions with Sasha Lane’s Jane hints towards a blossoming romance, which, thankfully, is never forced into the plot. The two remain platonic, and the film’s better off for it.
The ending may leave audiences with a little bit left to desire, but overall, The Miseducation of Cameron Post proves to be a strong, singular vision that absolutely hits the marks, captured with unbridled beauty through naturalistic long takes by cinematographer Ashley Connor. Its theatrical run next month may not reach too many cinemas here in Australia, but it’s a film that, should you seek it out, will definitely be worth the efforts made.
4 1/2 Stars
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