There's nothing in this story that is easy to watch. Even during the flashbacks of hushed moments of intimacy, we're cringing because of the rest of the context. The only thing that keeps our minds on track is the thought that adults in New Mexico are no longer allowed to subject their kids to what goes on in The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
The state Legislature outlawed so-called "conversion therapy" in 2017, but it was perfectly legal in the state of Pennsylvania in 1993, the setting for this story. Cameron, played by Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie, 2013), lands in the God's Promise boarding school after a prom night that ends with shocking revelations to her high-school boyfriend. All the coded language and stunning agendas emerge at once, and Cameron herself seems paralyzed, numbed, unable to figure out whether she wants to or can be cured of her gayness, or whether she should plot an escape.
The sparse dialog from the teen at first makes the biting words of the adults even sharper. "You," says creepy psychologist Dr. Marsh, "are at an age when you are especially vulnerable to evil." Jennifer Ehle (Fifty Shades of Grey) makes us believe she's willing to go to any length to break the kids, and the basic message here is that "there is no such thing as homosexuality," and teens with same-sex attraction are acting out some sort of deficiency in their lives that can be fixed with more Bible and fewer orgasms.
But don't get us wrong—it's not an even slightly funny take. The teens predictably suffer damage by this philosophy and by severed relationships with their parents. Their characters are deep in the omission of details—and just what we don't know also seems to also offers a plethora of clues. We manage to cheer a little inside when it's clear Cameron won't take the bait, and we celebrate the way like minds can still find each other in the guarded friendships she forms.
+Diverse cast plays deep characters
– Cringeworthy topic
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Directed by Desiree Akhavan
With Moretz and Ehle
Center for Contemporary Arts, NR, 91 min.