A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a drama based on Emily M. Danforth's YA novel about a teen girl who, in 1993, is sent to a gay conversion therapy camp. Expect strong sexual material: Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) passionately kisses a girl, has sex with another girl, and fantasizes about kissing other women. Viewers will hear moaning/other sex sounds, see implied masturbation, and get a glimpse of a naked breast. Opposite-sex couples also kiss briefly. Language includes several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "d--k," and more. Teens regularly smoke pot, and some teens are shown growing it. A teen boy rages at a meeting, ranting and yelling; some blood is shown. There's also vivid description of violence and a reference to suicide, plus arguing and general tension. Ultimately the movie is timely, effective, and sympathetic and will give teens and adults alike plenty to discuss.
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What's the story?
In THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, it's 1993, and Cameron Post (Chloe Grace Moretz) is caught making out with Coley Taylor (Quinn Shephard) in the back of a parked car during prom. Her Aunt Ruth (Kerry Butler), who raised Cameron after the death of her parents, is shocked by Cameron's same-sex attraction and immediately ships the girl off to a camp called God's Promise to "convert" her back to the straight and narrow. The camp is led by Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.), who claims to have formerly been gay, and his sister, Dr. Lydia March (Jennifer Ehle), who runs therapy sessions with the camp's attendees. While Cameron goes through the motions of the camp's activities and fantasizes about Coley, she meets the free-spirited Jane (Sasha Lane) and Native American Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck), bonding with them over their secret stash of pot. But when things take a turn for the worse, Cameron makes a desperate decision.
Is it any good?
With an earthy, realistic tone, this timely drama is fairly straightforward; it's geared toward the source novel's YA fans/audience, but it's patient and warmly sympathetic enough for others. Moretz carries much of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (which is based on Emily M. Danforth's 2012 novel) with another fine, mature, wounded performance. She expresses both thoughtfulness and desire as Cameron faces an uncertain future. When she's asked ridiculous questions ("would you throw a parade for drug addicts?") during therapy, she answers honestly. Sometimes she just doesn't know the answers. Gallagher Jr. also gives a touching performance, putting on a happy face as he tries to be positive about his own repressed sexuality, though something is missing.
Dr. March is arguably the movie's weakest link. Ehle performs the role as an icy villainess; even the screenplay views her without much depth. But the nuances of the rest of the characters make up for it. Director/co-writer Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behaviour) starts the film with the characters at a disadvantage, as a church group warns the teens about their behavior and how they'll spend the rest of their lives undoing the "mistakes" of their youth. That doesn't leave much wiggle room. Yet in this atmosphere of fear, hate, and abandonment, Akhavan finds an ending much like that of The Graduate; it's an escape, but one that's filled with both hope and trepidation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Miseducation of Cameron Post depicts sex. Is there any judgment around sexual identity or gender? Does it matter that Cameron has more than one partner?
What is the movie's ultimate message about sexual identity? Is the movie's ending hopeful? Downbeat? Mixed? If it's a mix of both, how does the movie achieve this?
Even though the movie takes place in 1993, is it still relevant today? How so? How have things changed since then? (For example, now the internet makes it much easier for kids who feel disconnected to find each other.)
If you've read the book, how does the movie compare? Which do you like better? Why?
- In theaters: August 3, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 3, 2018
- Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, John Gallagher, Jr.
- Director: Desiree Akhavan
- Studio: FilmRise
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: July 20, 2020
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