Wednesday, 29 August 2018

NZIFF 2018 Diary: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

America, 1993. After she is caught with her girlfriend at prom, Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) is shipped off to a gay conversion camp in the middle of nowhere.

She quickly falls in with a pair of rebels, 'Jane Fonda' (Sasha Lane) and Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck), and together the trio plot their escape.

Man, there is something off about this movie. The performances are good and the overall approach feels rather understated and empathetic. But I left the movie with the nagging feeling that it did not accomplish what it set out to do.

I wonder what the US audience response is, because mine found the movie hilarious. The movie does have its blackly comic moments (the concept of gay conversion is a perfect site for satire), but with the priorities of the current administration, gay conversion is not something from the distant past.

It feels weird to write this but I was a little underwhelmed by the whole thing. The focus on a white female POV feels a bit old-fashioned, and it does not help that the execution of her story lacks dimension. What makes it worse is who Cameron is in juxtaposition with, like Adam (Goodluck), who has to deal with his roommate's castration (a subplot that feels sidelined because the movie is framed from Cameron's perspective); or Erin (Emily Skeggs), her roommate who channels her sexual frustration into following the camp's edicts to the letter.

Chloe Grace Moretz  is solid as the lead - I have never really believed her in the past, but she has finally reached an age where her world-weariness reads. However, while this is intended to be Moretz's movie, if anyone shines it is Sasha Lane. As the worldly Jane Fonda, she is funny, whip-smart and radiates charisma.

I needed more character and conflict from the main character. Cameron does not seem to change or learn that much throughout the movie, and it was hard to track what her conflict was. She is secure in her sexuality, and when she faces pushback, there is no escalation between her rebellion and the repression from the people running this shit show.

It is heartfelt, and treats all of its characters as human beings, but there is a listless, undercooked quality to the story that prevented me from becoming fully invested in it.



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