Indie movies are often underrated and much more satisfying than big box office names. I came across this one browsing trailers, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018) already has that nice indie flair in its title, so I went into it full of hope for a great movie experience.
I was not disappointed.
In terms of composition, it does follow the usual modus operandi of an indie movie – there is no artificially constructed story of a protagonist that has the feeling of being told to an audience, rather a filterless view into a complicated and interesting development.
This movie deals with a lot – a young woman losing her parents, struggling to find herself and feeling worthless, because the society around her lacks empathy and intellect to see that a gay person is to be treated exactly as anybody else.
The fact of name protagonist Cameron’s homosexuality being seen as a point of conflict in her environment is already angering and disturbing, but this is the main topic of Miseducation. Cameron is caught making out with her girlfriend in a car on prom night, which results in her aunt putting her into a christian conversion centre, God’s Promise.
There are several unique twists here, the narrative itself does not develop as much in itself, rather than just showing what exactly goes on inside the facility and how the teenagers are treated. It is an interesting choice that the escalating and tragic incidents are tied rather to the side characters than the main characters, since from the three the movie tends to focus on, their inner turmoil is shown in a sensitive, introverted manner. Violence takes place, but elsewhere.
All of the characters on both sides are low key fascinating, since none of them is allowed to take center, which makes this movie so rich in layers. The leaders of the facility have an ambivalently interesting back story, and are played exceptionally – but the same can be said about the other teenagers. Some of them have a singular function to represent: rage, depression, empathy, cynicism, all of these are aspects that the teenagers go through while being coldly put down by their ruthless tyrant of a therapist.
Still, the protagonist’s struggle takes center stage, and Chloë Grace Moretz does a great job, her silent escalation is marvelous to watch. She is rather an observant type than a participant, so it makes a lot of sense for the story to be told through her eyes, her not exploding emotionally, but only breaking down in tears after begging her aunt to go back home.
The subject matter is extremely delicate and very hard to digest at certain points, but director and writer Desiree Akhavan has done an extraordinary job with the tone and tempo of the movie, not overwhelming with stimuli but rather silently showing the pain and suffering of young, beautiful individuals kept in cages they don’t need to be kept in, by narrow-minded oppressors.
I also absolutely loved the ending. It is by no means a happy one, but it allows the teens to feel free, if only for a fleeting moment. Another scene well excecuted.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this movie. It could have been easily 20 minutes longer and it would still have captivated me intensely.