March 11, 2019  (Web Review)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

FilmRise, 91 min., not rated, DVD: $19.95, Blu-ray: $24.95, Mar. 12

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

While one shouldn’t doubt the sincerity of this period drama about so-called gay conversion therapy, Desiree Akhavan’s drama is neither edgy nor insightful enough to escape the lingering feel of a well-intentioned afterschool special. In 1993, Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is living with her fundamentalist aunt and uncle after the death of her parents. When she is discovered in a sexually compromising situation with her best friend Coley (Quinn Shephard), Cameron’s guardians enroll her in “God’s Promise,” a program aimed at “curing” youngsters with homosexual tendencies from the “illness” of same-sex attraction through a combination of scriptural study, communal work, and group therapy. Good-natured Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.), one of the program’s supposed success stories, runs the operation in conjunction with his sterner psychologist sister Lydia (Jennifer Ehle). The narrative portrays the often-adversarial stance adopted by Cameron, while also sketching her relationships with fellow patients—among them her roommate Erin (Emily Skeggs), who desperately tries to conform to expectations, and Mark (Owen Campbell), a boy Lydia considers cured, who is devastated when his father refuses to allow him to return home due to his effeminacy. But Cameron definitely gravitates toward the rebellious skeptics—Jane (Sasha Lane), a girl with a prosthetic leg who loves marijuana, and Adam (Forrest Goodluck), a Native American who explains his sexual preferences in terms of his tribal beliefs. The film does try to be nuanced—portraying the program’s directors as misguided rather than nefarious—but it is fairly predictable, although it might help initiate debate. A strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)