The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of those Sundance pictures that has heartbreak written all over it. Set in 1993, it stars Chloe Grace Moretz (in a career-best turn) as a teen forced to enter a gay conversion therapy center after she’s discovered in the backseat of a car with another girl at her homecoming dance. She’s joined, among others, by Sasha Lane (who shows off some impressive comedic chops) and Forest Goodluck, all of them working opposite Jennifer Ehle (who walks a fine line between quiet menace and misplaced good intentions) and John Gallagher Jr. as the operators of the camp. Surprisingly, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is more uplifting than anything else. While the picture absolutely has a thread of melancholy and heartbreak, it’s the moments of undeniable joy that stick with you.
Imagine a group of kids already grappling with their own sexual identity forced into a group home out in the woods and told that who they are is wrong. It’s devastating. But now imagine those kids, thriving, precisely as who they are, even when all the odds are so firmly stacked against them. That’s the feeling that prevails when Chloe Grace Moretz leads a rebellious sing-along of “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes. It’s, at once, perfectly of the era and utterly timeless. That happy, fuzzy feeling in the midst of such darkness is where this movie lives, and thrives.
Particularly impactful is the sharp juxtaposition between Cameron’s life at the center, which is often so clinical and sterile (and never shies away from the inherent danger and cruelty in such places), versus the secret life she was living before, which was vivid with the agonizing joy of first love. The Miseducation of Cameron Post stands as a sharp, insightful and hopeful missive about interrupted lives that deserve to be lived on their own terms, and it’s brought to life with heart and talent by a young cast with immensely bright futures.
When The Miseducation of Cameron Post makes its way to theaters, find it. Watch it. And bask in independent cinema done wonderfully.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post won the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition
Update: The Miseducation of Cameron Post has been acquired by FilmRise and will be released this summer.