The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows a seemingly typical teenage girl. As a film reviewer and avid reader, I have come across countless articles beginning with the aforementioned sentence: X or Y follows your typical teenager. There is no such thing as a typical teenager, or typical anyone for that matter. We are all equally different and interesting, with our own beliefs, hopes, and needs. This is what The Miseducation of Cameron Post truly follows, a unique young lady and her friends trapped in a typical world.
Chloë Grace Moretz seamlessly slips into the role of Cameron Post, a young lady who has fallen head-over-heels in love with her best friend, fellow high schooler, and prom queen. Yes, she loves a fellow female, the only problem with this is it’s all taking place during the early 1990s. What may seem like a mere blink of the eye to many of us, was a far less kinder time for those involved in same-sex relationships, as Post unfortunately discovers when her boyfriend catches her making out with her love. This one instant sets off a chain reaction which sees Post’s forced enrollment within a homosexuality conversion camp.
The camp—named The Promise—seems to hold a rather distinct mix of personalities. We get the sense that many of the camp counselors are innately sympathetic, caring people who are vastly ignorant of the pain and cruelty they are inflicting on the children, despite one of the head members having experienced gay conversion himself. The brother and sister team that run the camp often appear out of their depth, unable to deal with or comprehend the complexities of the youth therein. Nobody sees this more than Cameron Post herself. To her the adults seem to be making things up as they go along, and when they face some kind of emotional adversity, they crumble under the pressure. As a viewer this is chilling to witness. We watch helplessly as this young girl is inadvertently tormented by the uneducated, forced to feel far more alone than when she was a part of the outside world.
From a cinematic perspective we are treated to a variety of locals, such as back forests, cabins, and deep character progressive flashbacks. This is a completely character driven feature, with its success dependent on the skill of both the actors and writing. Thankfully both come together flawlessly to create a compelling narrative permeated with some tense moments, along with laugh out loud comedy scenes nestled amongst the unease. Cameron Post and the two best friends she makes soon after arriving are likeable, we root for them to escape the oppressive clutches of the camp and find the better life they all deserve.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a character study in human emotion and resilience. It is incredible to think how far we have come in terms of human rights in under thirty years, and horribly depressing to see how much further we still need to go, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post does its small part to highlight this.
The Spring Creek Sun was on hand at the Tribeca Film Festival’s premiere in the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center to speak with the actors on the red carpet.
Owen Campbell (OC): It’s been so long since we did the film so I don’t want to make up an answer. But I remember that for the audition they had us do a passage from the New Testament. That was really different from any audition I ever had in my life. I thought it was great, it sort of breaks up the routine.
SCS: Before you started filming, was there any research you conducted about gay conversion centers or spoke with people who have been forced into such a situation?
OC: I talked a lot with a good friend of mine. I didn’t have any friends who’ve gone through the same experience as the film, but I did speak to a friend of mine who experienced something that, you could say, paralleled it.
SCS: This film is based on the book, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. Can you tell me how helpful or involved the book and the author were during the filming process?
OC: Reading the book provided a lot of helpful information. You read a book and you learn a lot of things that aren’t in the movie; things that they have to cut out [due to film runtime constraints]. Also, the author was on set and we had a lot of conversations. I had a lot of thoughts and ideas, and after speaking with the author she told me what I made up and what worked well with the character.
SCS: What do you hope viewers take away from this film?
OC: I hope that from my experience art has been there for me at the right time to teach me the right thing at that time. I hope that anything I’ve been a part of can help be there for the people.
Quinn Shephard (QS): I play Coley Taylor, Cameron Post’s (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) best friend and love interest at the beginning of the film and punctuated in flash backs. I just really wanted to be a part of this movie in any way possible. I think it’s a really important film and it’s important to me, personally. I also love Desiree Akhavan’s work; she’s incredible. She is very tender and calm. She has such an intuition as to what an actor needs, and then she gives you exactly that. It creates this environment where she can pull anything from an actor because they feel like they can be so vulnerable with her.
SCS: Did you do any research into conversion centers or speak with any experts on this topic before preparing for your role?
QS: Since my character doesn’t go into the conversion center I didn’t do research into that. For me it’s more about understanding the psyche behind it and the character’s thought process.
Melanie Ehrlich (ME): As you may know, Chloë Grace Moretz plays a character named Cameron Post who is forced to go to a gay conversion therapy center, and I am one of the other girls that’s in the program. So my character is the only character who actually wants to be there, voluntarily. My character generally wants to and thinks I can change, and I think that is so unique as opposed to the other characters that are there at the center. I related to her and I understood her right away. The script did a beautiful job of humanizing these characters so, Helen I understood right away. She was a musician, an optimist, and she wanted to be the best person she could be. Those are just things that I could relate to. Also, she sings, and I sing too.
Photos by Dean Moses