Wednesday 19 September 2018

Film: 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post'

This had the potential to be something exception-al. Not only because the subject matter has, as far as I'm aware, not been addressed in a feature film before - viz. the attempted 'conversion' ('correction' they would call it) from homosexuality to 'normalcy' by a Christian group -  but also because there has never been a better time than now, with the dreadful prospect of such a practice's active advocacy being pushed by a Pence Presidency looming over the horizon.
Shame, then, that for me the promise didn't quite meet the opportunity presented by the premise. Double shame that much of my disappointment stemmed from that old bugbear of mine, poor and lazy diction, and especially galling when most of it comes from the film's main star, Chloe Grace Moretz. Oh, what I'd have given for subtitles when, in a conversation, all I can make out is one half, and left guessing as to what it was she actually said. What a needless scar on the film! The only 'biggish' name here is Jennifer Ehle who, even when she talks quietly, one can still hear what she's saying. 

Set in 1993 (in some state location I can't find), Moretz, orphaned and living with parental guardians, is discovered having sex in a car with a teenage girl of similar age and is whisked off to 'God's Promise', an isolated small institute with around 10 'inmates' of both sexes and roughly similar age, run by Ehle, assisted by John Gallagher Jr who, were learn, was also subject to same-sex attraction but, with God's help he 'overcame' it (Hallelujah!) - or so he claims (Hah!). Ehle, as the resident 'governess' of sorts, is superficially oh-so-understanding but steely underneath. For me it wasn't established whether all the attendees were there for the same reason. I surmise that they were though it wasn't obvious. They have group sessions with half a dozen together, Ehle presiding, encouraging them to talk about their innermost feelings, as well as having one-to-ones. During the night an unidentified torch bearer makes the rounds, presumably to ensure there's no hanky-panky going on - including, one presumes, solo efforts. 
Moretz has flashbacks and fantasies about her Lesbian affair(s), her own lack of faith in a God not facilitating the prescribed 'healing' process. She makes particular friends with a young woman (Sasha Lane) and a young man (Forrest Goodluck - who, I think should be turning heads in a few years' time) and the three of them go on regular hikes together.

All the ingredients of an unusual and good film are here but somehow the target isn't quite hit. There's no attempt (nor should there be?) to show the misguidedness of the institution, though it's clear where the makers' and writer's sympathies lie, which is not with the Church. 
Based on a novel by Enily Danforth of her true-life experiences, director and screenplay-co-writer, Desiree Akhavan keeps it all very much low-key, there being just one moment of heightened emotional tension - apart from the sex, that is, which is not in any way explicitly shown.  

Although I did like the film I came away feeling strangely unfulfilled, the ending coming unexpectedly and leaving me, unusually, with the tantalising question of "So what happened next?"
I might have scraped by giving this a rating of '7' but I really must register a penalty half-point minimum for Moretz's hopeless,  annoying and unthoughtful lack of clear diction. So I'm afraid it's a................6.5.

(IMDb................7.0 / Rott. Toms............7.5 )


  1. This must be a trend. I've read that Nicole Kidman has a film, based on a true story,about this same topic regarding her gay son.
    Hopefully that might be a better film.

    1. I think I heard about that too, Bob. Should be better, with the additional attraction that Nicole K. is one of my very favourite actresses. Looking forward to it.

  2. I went to see this today. Enjoyed it and blamed the American language and me being English for not understanding all that was said sometimes. I thought it was done well and unless you wanted to sit through three hours I cannot see how the end could have followed through and let you know what happened next. I liked them in the back of pick-up going off into the sunset kind of thing, happy and joking with the passing motorcycle. A good film and a few chuckles from the audience at the lines of the woman in charge of the "college".

    1. You make me wonder if the cinema in which I saw it had inferior sound, Rachel, though if so it was strange that it should have overwhelmingly related to just the one actress' lines.
      Good that you found more to like in it than I did - I welcome contrary opinions.
      What you say about the film's ending leads me to conclude that what ensued was significant. I don't normally mind endings that hang open, only this one came rather suddenly at a point I hadn't been expecting. I can live with it, though.

    2. I did miss a couple of things she said but decided that if I was an American I am sure I would have understood her. I liked the whole ending scenario, the early breakfast etc. I also did not have any problem with the other inmates where I thought it was made clear that they were all there for the same reason. The assistant to the woman in charge was also her brother. I am not sure whether you noticed that. The part of the film I found least satisfactory were the flash backs/dreams which I found difficult to establish what they were, dreams or something that had really happened. All in all though I thought it was an excellent film.

    3. No, I hadn't caught on that the assistant was J.Ehle's brother, which now adds a bit more sense to the whole picture, if only by a little bit.
      I also was thrown by the 'sex-in-her-mind' sequences which were not well signalled as to what they really were.
      I''m glad you thought all the kids were there for the like reason as that also helps to put a rounded picture on the whole thing.
      Overall though, I wish I felt as positive about the film as you do. I did, and in my memory do still, find it wanting.

  3. It was here for a WEEK. I didn't get to see it.

    1. Surprising, not to say, sad, B. It's one that has to be seen - somehow - and you won't lose much if you still manage to catch it to watch on small screen.