Llanelli Star - - Film Reviews -

THE teenage hero­ine of di­rec­tor De­siree Akha­van’s sen­si­tively ob­served drama faces a treach­er­ous jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery as she comes to terms with her sex­u­al­ity.

Based on a novel by Emily M Dan­forth, The Mise­d­u­ca­tion Of Cameron Post chron­i­cles the dam­age wrought by a gay con­ver­sion ther­apy camp through the eyes of one girl, who wages a war of at­tri­tion against coun­sel­lors and dis­cov­ers her great­est weapons are her com­pas­sion and wit.

The script, co-writ­ten by Akha­van and Ce­cilia Frugiuele, skips nim­bly through an emo­tional mine­field of rag­ing hor­mones and ado­les­cent angst as tor­tured teenagers – known as dis­ci­ples – root out the source of their sup­posed im­per­fec­tion.

One girl sug­gests that her fa­ther’s love of TV sports might have neg­a­tively im­pacted her fem­i­nin­ity at an im­pres­sion­able age.

It’s easy to scoff but the ma­jor­ity of US states have not banned con­ver­sion ther­apy for mi­nors on the ba­sis of gen­der iden­tity or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Teenager Cameron Post (Chloe Grace Moretz) pre­pares to at­tend her high school’s home­com­ing dance with her date Jamie (Dal­ton Har­rod) but she would rather be danc­ing with fe­male friend Co­ley (Quinn Shep­hard).

The girls are dis­cov­ered in a pas­sion­ate em­brace by Jamie, which forces Cameron’s deeply re­li­gious guardian, her aunt Ruth (Kerry But­ler), to pur­sue a rad­i­cal course of ac­tion.

Ruth sends Cameron away to a gay con­ver­sion cen­tre called God’s Prom­ise over­seen by fear­some ther­a­pist Dr Ly­dia March (Jen­nifer Ehle), who claims her prac­tices can help teenagers re­dis­cover the path to het­ero­sex­u­al­ity.

Dr Marsh’s brother Rick (John Gal­lagher Jr), her first suc­cess story, is a gui­tarstrum­ming coun­sel­lor at the cen­tre.

Room-mate Erin (Emily Skeggs) in­tro­duces Cameron to other res­i­dents in­clud­ing sen­si­tive soul Mark (Owen Camp­bell) and mar­i­jua­nasmok­ing mis­fits Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and Adam Red Ea­gle (For­rest Good­luck).

Dur­ing group ther­apy ses­sions, Dr Marsh en­cour­ages the young­sters to con­front the rea­sons for their con­fu­sion.

“Maybe you’re sup­posed to feel dis­gusted with your­self when you’re a teenager,” coun­ters Jane.

As Cameron’s treat­ment un­folds, she openly ques­tions Dr Marsh’s pro­gramme.

Anchored by a qui­etly com­pelling per­for­mance from Moretz, The Mise­d­u­ca­tion Of Cameron Post teth­ers sym­pa­thy se­curely to the teenage pro­tag­o­nists.

Acer­bic hu­mour is deftly em­ployed to cut through the ten­sion be­tween staff and dis­ci­ples, em­bold­ened by a purse-lipped sup­port­ing turn from Ehle.

One char­ac­ter’s tragic nar­ra­tive arc begs com­par­isons with Dead Poet’s So­ci­ety and is clearly tele­graphed – but their suf­fer­ing is deeply up­set­ting, even when we are braced for im­pact.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron Post L-R: For­rest Good­luck as Adam Red Ea­gle, Sasha Lane as Jane Fonda and Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron Post

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