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The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Film Review

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by Kitty Goodall (subscribe)
I love the arts and creativity. My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for film, theatre, comedy and improv shows. Now I'm a professional creative content producer, mostly on digital platforms.
Published August 20th 2018
A coming of age film with a difference

"How is programming people to hate themselves not emotional abuse?" asks Cameron Post in this black comedy about sexuality and the ways in which religion seeks to control, suppress and shape desire.

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Cameron makes new friends in the conversion camp

The script was written by Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele, based on the book by Emily M. Danforth. It follows a young lesbian, Cameron Post (ChloŰ Grace Moretz) as she's sent to a Christian conversion camp for teens "struggling with same-sex attraction". While the centre does little to alter her temptations, it does provide her with the chance to connect with other same sex attracted teenagers. The story is engaging, ultimately heartwarming and very well paced. The Christian rock, conversion techniques and brainwashing provide the backdrop for scenes that are simultaneously sad and hilarious.

Writer/director Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior) and co-writer Cecilia Frugiuele have done a great job of bringing this coming-of-age novel to the screen. The result is an unpredictable and revitalising approach to teen comedy.

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These young people find themselves as well as finding friendship

Filmmaker Desiree Akhavan says of the heroine, "Cameron is 12 years old and just beginning to discover her homosexuality when her parents are killed. She is sent to live with her evangelical aunt and uncle, who send her to a Christian gay conversion centre when they found out about her sexuality."

"The book spoke really honestly about coming of age and it just happened to be gay. Cameron's gayness was the whole plot but it still didn't feel like a gay issue story. It didn't feel condescending or preachy or affected. It felt just as relatable and truthful as all other really good YA novels," she says, "I always thought if I were to make a movie, I would focus on the last 200 pages with her time at the conversion centre."

Akhavan and producer Cecilia Fruguiele were discussing possible future projects and she gave Fruguiele The Miseducation of Cameron Post to consider. Akhavan says, "The minute Cecilia started reading, she said, 'This is our next film.'"

The thing that really stands out for a viewer is just how pointless and destructive these conversion centres can be. It really highlights the staffs' complete lack of qualification or scientific basis for their processes. As Cameron remarks in the film, "You're just making it up as you go along!"

Akhavan says, "I love stories that take place in rehabilitation centres and I've always wanted to do a project that talked about what it felt like to be in those rooms," she remarks. "It's about 'getting better,' but what is that? It looks different for each person. People also create alliances on the basis of how committed they are to getting better or to not getting better. I was looking at the book again and it hit me: what is 'better' when you can't 'pray away the gay?' That was the kernel of an idea that Cecilia and I started with in writing the screenplay."

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Cameron is played by Chloe Grace Moretz

Chl÷e Grace Moretz, who does a wonderful job playing Cameron, was attracted enough to the script to come out of hiatus for the role. Since her breakout role in 2010's Kick Ass, Moretz had been in numerous high profile, largely studio-based films. She was taking a break and ready for a change when The Miseducation of Cameron Post came along.

"I had chosen to take some time off and basically reboot my career," she explains, "I wanted to make movies that felt poignant and inspiring to me as a person and relevant to the state of world."

Moretz works with her brother, who read the screenplay first. He told her to call him after she'd finished it. "I read it within an hour. I called my brother and said, 'First of all, this is one of the most beautifully written scripts I've ever read. And secondly, this is the path that I want to go on in my career.'"

The Miseducation of Cameron Post isn't exclusively for a gay audience. It's relatable for anyone who has ever felt like they haven't fit in, or that authority figures around trying to force them to change their nature.

In Select Cinemas 6 September
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Rating: TBC

Grand Jury Prize
2018 Sundance Film Festival
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Why? See this romantic comedy with a dark twist
When: In cinemas from 6th September 2018
Where: In select cinemas around Australia
Cost: See your local guides
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