Caught having sex with the prom queen, a teen is sent to "pray away the gay" at a Christian conversion therapy camp, in what's actually a timely, funny comedy.
Desiree Akhavan follows up 2014’s lovely Appropriate Behavior with a tender, compassionate and gently comic drama about a lesbian teenager dealing with society’s disapproval. Part One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, part John Hughes film, it packs an emotional punch and a career-best performance from Chloë Grace Moretz.
It’s 1993 and Moretz is Cameron, a high-schooler having a secret affair with her friend Coley (Quinn Shephard). When the young lovers are discovered in the back of Cameron’s boyfriend’s car on prom night, they are greeted by onlookers with unadulterated horror. Cameron is whisked to an evangelical Christian camp in the wilds of Montana to be “cured” of her homosexuality.
The camp is ruled by the menacing Dr. Marsh (Jennifer Ehle), who bullies her subjects into reaching twisted conclusions about their sexuality. Her methods amount to psychological torture, but Cameron’s like-minded campmates—Navajo two-spirit Adam (Forrest Goodluck) and a weed-smoking girl nicknamed Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane)—teach her how to navigate personal attacks.
From these unlikely raw materials, Akhavan has crafted a compelling, funny drama that sensitively charts the confusion of adolescence and the importance of facing down its challenges. It’s a film that wears its giant heart on its sleeve, inviting you to bask in the happiness that comes when you accept who you are. Is there a better message than that?
Cast and crew
John Gallagher Jr.