Conversion therapy is explored in a flawed but well-meaning drama

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
RPL Theatre

Oct. 26–29

It’s baffling that in 2018 conversion therapy centres are still legal, even in Canada. These institutions are far more toxic than just “pray the gay away”. Their programs are based on teaching self-loathing to suggestible teens, all but ensuring a life of emotional turmoil and other hardships.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is the first of two dramas dealing with the topic this year (the other, Boy Erased, opens in November). After being caught making out with another teenage girl, Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is sent to a conversion camp in upstate New York where she’s subjected to a barrage of misinformation regarding her sexuality.

Besides Cameron, the movie introduces other youngsters in the same boat: keeners who drink the Kool-Aid unaware of the long-term consequences, kids who pretend to buy into the program just to be sent home, and those who see the treatment for what it is — a collection of distorted exercises haphazardly put together to give the impression of cohesive therapy.

While the film has its heart in the right place, and the target is unquestionably perverse, The Miseducation of Cameron Post has a big problem at the centre. The lead, Cameron, is basically a cypher with little character, let alone drive. Granted, she is a teenager still figuring out life, but by comparison she’s the least interesting person on screen. It doesn’t help that Moretz has limited range, which leaves her struggling to depict the character’s internal turmoil.

The movie does succeed at portraying the havoc wrought on teens by conversion therapy: shaming and isolation are used liberally, with predictable effects. Here’s a thought, let’s send bigoted parents to pride centres and see how that goes.