CREDIT: Jeong Park/FilmRise

This review was originally posted on News Cult in August 2018.

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, John Gallagher Jr., Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Jennifer Ehle

Director: Desiree Akhavan

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: Unrated, But It Would Probably Be R for Clear (Though Not-Entirely-Explicit) Sexuality

Release Date: August 3, 2018 (Limited)

There’s something fundamentally unsatisfying about the ending of The Miseducation of Cameron Post. But it would be unfair to be too angry at this lack of resolution, as it is justified both narratively and (I would imagine) by real-life verisimilitude. Chloë Grace Moretz plays the lesbian title character who gets sent by her aunt to God’s Promise, a camp that practices gay conversion therapy. Without spoiling too much, there is hope for her and a few other camp attendees by the conclusion, though there are also still plenty of reasons to be concerned about their future. That ambiguity is fine. But there is a larger impasse at play here that makes Cameron Post feel a little incomplete despite how astute and empathetic it is.

The issue is with the protagonist. To be entertaining, a movie does not require a dynamic, changing lead character, but it does require that if it wants to take us on a journey. Writer/director Desiree Akhavan does want to do that, but Cameron Post is rather static. Moretz does exactly what is asked of her. She is broken up over her family’s inability to embrace her true identity, but she will never believe any of the lies that God’s Promise feeds her. She recognizes emotional manipulation for what it is and is strong-willed enough to withstand it. She is like that when we meet her, and she remains so throughout. Her two closest friends (Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck) are similarly just as sure of themselves.

On the one hand, it would make more sense if Akhavan focused more on characters who are having a more difficult struggle. There would be no shortage of options, as multiple attendees attempt to buy into the camp’s teachings while ultimately unable to suppress their urges, some of them resorting to self-harm to deal with the conflict. But on the other hand, I appreciate that we get to spend more time with the kids who are defiantly certain about who they are. There is a low-key hangout vibe in what would otherwise be an emotional minefield. It’s a pleasant enough film, but it sometimes it takes unpleasant confrontation to make a difference.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is Recommended If You Like: Saved!, Hangout Sitcoms with Dark Undertones

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Icebergs