Jul 11, 2018

Trailing Off: "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" (2018)

Scene from The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Welcome to the sporadic column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion



Directed By: Desiree Akhavan 
Written By: Desiree Akhavan
Starring: Chloe Moretz, Jennifer Ehle, Quinn Shepard


- Preamble -

Back in 2015, director Desiree Akhavan released her feature length debut Appropriate Behavior. The easy way to summarize is was to call it a coming of age story in which Akhavan played a New Yorker who was having an identity crisis both sexually and racially. She was a bisexual character who was seen throughout the film exploring relationships that were awkward, but most importantly honest to something that felt real. Akhavan was capturing the experience of a woman who wanted to belong, but found her status as an intellectual holding her back. Similarly, it's a struggle of a Persian daughter trying to follow in her family roots in meaningful fashion as an American. For a debut film that played aesthetically into all of the familiar indie comedy elements, it was a powerful film and one that showed the start of a promising career, even earning her a brief but memorable role on the HBO series Girls.
Which makes The Miseducation of Cameron Post all the more promising. More than anything, it'll be curious to see what Akhavan has chosen as her next film, having gained some acclaim from her Sundance hit. If anything, the film sticks to a familiar pattern, and one that's even more timely. The story centers around Chloe Moretz as she attends a gay conversion therapy and discovers just how artificial it is. True, it has been done before (most excellently in But I'm a Cheerleader), but there's something that was present in Appropriate Behavior that came across as an artist with something to say. There was a personal drive in there that gave power and emotion to a voice that hadn't been seen before. Considering the contemporary political issues regarding LGBT rights, the film seems like a good chance to have some deeper meaning under the humor and critically acclaimed performances.
Most of all, it sounds like a promising film from a filmmaker who has already done plenty to establish herself. She has a realism and humor about her work that makes her stories come to life in meaningful ways. Akhavan is someone who is likely to continue finding 21st century relationships that stray from the norm, using what cinematic language is known to find something more important underneath the artifice. She is likely going to be a director with a pretty strong filmography when all is said and done. For now, it's time to see just how good that trailer actually is.



- Dissection -

Much like But I'm a Cheerleader, the film immediately jumps into the perfect subversion of comedy and commentary. At the center is Moretz, whose exhausted cries of frustration cut deeper than any meaningful exchange. As an actress who has had a lengthy career at such a young age, she continues to prove herself with interesting material and gives performances that are increasingly more nuanced and compelling. It's present here as she manages to balance a sense of comedy with the underlying sense of frustration in being somewhere that she doesn't want to be, which is at a gay conversion therapy camp. It's the perfect set-up, in part because it already seems like there's a lot of proof that it isn't going to work. The band of misfits present give off the sense that they will cheat the system and bring Moretz along for the ride.
Akhavan is likely drawing from her own personal experiences for this, as the moments present in the trailer often feel like they have something more biting and interesting to say. There's the idea of the staff being "Disney villains" and that they too will destroy Moretz's soul. It's a nice little atmosphere without it, but the way that it's set up is one that clearly displays the discomfort of the people involved, who don't feel like there's much wrong with their behaviors. There's anarchy lying underneath, and the perfect cries of Moretz cursing reflect just how much this world is toxic and likely does more harm than good.
So, what exactly does the film have to offer beyond this? It should be noted that Appropriate Behavior already reflected a director who never strays too far from the emotional core of the humor. Everything feels personal and vulnerable, and there's nothing more present right now in society than the feeling of LGBT and racially diverse communities being oppressed. It's a chance for Akhavan to say something greater with her work, or possibly connect with an even bigger audience. Whatever the case may be, she has a very promising trailer that captures humor and anger in equal measures, and makes the idea of being the victim for being human seem offensive without being overbearing about it. This is a film that looks to try and explain why people are the way that they are, and it's probably going to have some fun with it.


- One Sentence Sell -

Chloe Moretz stars in a gay conversion therapy comedy that looks to hit a lot of hot button issues of the moment in meaningful ways.


- Trove or Trash -
TROVE

Desiree Akhavan is one of the more promising young directors out there right now and it's great to see her back out there again. Considering the acclaim that the film has gotten so far, it's bound to be a pretty fun and meaningful film when it's finally released. 

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