While introducing The Miseducation of Cameron Post at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Desiree Akhavan said that she thought of her film as a story about growing up queer that feels like “a John Hughes movie.” It’s an ostensibly strange remark about an indie that unfolds within a ‘90s gay conversion camp, yet the writer-director’s quiet empathy for her characters signifies a similarly distinctive new wave of LGBT coming-of-age stories.
After 17-year-old Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is caught hooking up with her best friend in the film’s opening minutes, her evangelical aunt ships her away to a rural facility called God’s Promise. Before long, two more blasé students — Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck) — catch her attention.
The three of them do form a Hughes-esque trio in the sense that they regularly convene to smoke weed and quip about the overzealous authority figures and eccentric classmates immediately surrounding them. But, in their cases, American teenhood is punctuated by invasive questioning about the root of their “sin:” their sexualities.
As an outspoken bisexual director herself, Akhavan takes refreshing care to imbue the darkly comedic pains of growing up with an understanding of the specifically gay story she’s telling. Cameron and her friends’ bonds go beyond conventional high school film friendships to illustrate how young LGBT people often find belonging through found families.
Many of the students at God’s Promise are afraid of hating the people that they’re growing up to be, and these concerns are only amplified by the frighteningly sincere homophobia of the adults around them.
The film’s searing, gentle long takes force viewers to look past the stylized tragedy that often accompanies conversion camp dramas. When Cameron says, “I’m tired of feeling disgusted with myself,” Jane swiftly replies, “Maybe you’re supposed to feel disgusted with yourself when you’re a teenager.” In realizing the small intricacies of coming into your own queerness alongside and in spite of the people around you, Cameron Post is able to capture nuance that’s often missing in similar films.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is available to stream on Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, and YouTube. Follow The Miseducation of Cameron Post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and follow Desiree Akhavan on Twitter.
Abby Monteil is a freelance culture writer and journalism student from the Midwest. She’s particularly interested in genre-pushing films and portrayals of women and the LGBT community. Abby is a writer at MOVE Magazine and an editorial intern at 435 Magazine.