Friday, 27 July 2018

The Miseducation of Cameron Post: NZIFF Review


The Miseducation of Cameron Post: NZIFF Review



An impressive performance from Chloe Grace Moretz helps lift The Miseducation of Cameron Post from the middle of the road, seen-it-all-before mire it seems determined to plow.

Set in 1993, this adaptation of the 2012 novel by Emily M Danforth centres on Moretz's Cameron Post, who's discovered at prom getting hot and heavy with her girlfriend in the back seat of a car.

Shipped off to God's Promise camp, Post is subjected to attempts to steer her away from the sin of Same Sex Attraction.

Initially resistant to life within the camp, Post befriends fellow incarcerated teens Jane Fonda (American Honey's Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck) as she tries to negotiate her way through.

If you want a tween version of gay conversion that dance around the big issues and is more interested in making the whole thing hip and attractive to teens, then this is for you.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post: NZIFF Review

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is very Hollywood fare, mixing in some elements of Dead Poets Society and a laissez-faire mocking of religious doctrine.

It helps little that those in charge are figures to be mocked, meaning the conflict, such as it is, never feels anything but against the fighting of the therapies.

With lines like " Cameron is already a masculine name, to abbreviate it further only exacerbates your gender confusion" delivered by camp mistress Dr Marsh (Jennifer Ehle, in severe form) and the fact the pastor is a grinning moustachioed man, the film tries little to bring subtlety to those in charge, which in turn ensures sentiment is never but in the kids' corner.

Fortunately, at the centre of all of this is easily a career best from Chloe Grace Moretz, who gives the film heart where there deserved to be none. Delivering a nuanced performance, with the empathy needed for someone in this position, and with someone searching inwardly to truly be themselves, Moretz raises Post to levels of reality that are hard to ignore.

Actually, the teens in the film are perhaps the best thing, but it's Moretz whose subtle facials and withdrawn underplaying of Post does much to increase the conflict that lies beneath the surface. There are genuinely heartbreaking moments for Post as she reflects on her life, and Moretz gives them much sincerity throughout.

While there are no "shocking" scenes as such, The Miseducation of Cameron Post never feels like a balanced film, a flat adaptation of what could be a spiky genre-defining piece.

Its simplistic approach to the situation is saved only by Moretz's life breathed into her self-questioning character - cliches abound among the compassionate touches. Perhaps it's an age thing, and this film is aimed squarely at the younger generation, destined to give them a torch heroine they may want. For those who've lived life and seen much, The Miseducation of Cameron Post feels like a squandered light attempt to breathe life into a big topic.

Sure, it's likely to offer some hope given these centres still exist, but by avoiding any real debate or discussion within the film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post feels like just another drama that barely rises above its tween intentions, and fails to escape its twee execution.

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