Pop Culture Intervention

I Saw 'The Miseducation Of Cameron Post' And Had A Memorable Experience With A Stranger

"Let's just consider this a Missed Connection ad."

At A Plus, we're addicted to pop culture, and Pop Culture Intervention brings that obsession to the soapbox. Through this series, we'll recommend what you should be watching, reading or listening to; explore how arts and entertainment affect us; and interpret the important messages contained within various works.

With the ability to watch films in the privacy of your own home, people often have complaints about seeing a movie at a theater — whether it be the unruly patrons or the ever-rising prices of tickets and snacks. But for me, it's a sacred experience and one that, if the stars align, can truly leave a memorable impression on a person.

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All that said, let me tell you about going to see The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which I was lucky enough to see as part of the Tribeca Film Festival back in April.

Credit: Film Rise

The movie — directed by Desiree Akhavan and based on the young adult novel of the same name by Emily M. Danforth — is set in 1993 and follows Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) who, after she is caught in the backseat of a car with another girl, Coley (Quinn Shephard), is sent to a remote treatment center named God's Promise to cure her same-sex attraction. This place is run by the brother-sister team of Rev. Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) — one of its supposed success stories — and Dr. Lydia March (Jennifer Ehle). It's here that the titular teen meets others with same-sex attraction. There's her roommate, Erin (Emily Skeggs), who seems to be totally with the program, and the weed-growing outcasts such as Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck) and Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane).

All I really knew going in was that it was the type of film that could hold me over until Boy Erased, the Joel Edgerton-directed gay conversion therapy flick based on the memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley, comes out on November 2. That and the fact that I'd heard amazing things about it since the movie had made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Film Rise

Luckily I was rather early so, after being let in, I snagged a seat toward the front and dead center — my preferred choice. I don't actually recall who sat to my right but, as the theater filled up, a woman older than myself filled the seat to my left. I thought nothing of it at the time, but I was about to have an emotional roller coaster ride with this complete stranger.

Without getting into any spoilers, The Miseducation of Cameron Post was superb (and it seems the critics agree). It has a pitch-perfect tone — something rather important for anything that tackles an issue like gay conversion therapy — and delivers stellar performances all around. I call it a roller coaster ride of emotions because, throughout its 90-ish minute runtime, there were moments that made me legitimately LOL and others that made you gasp. I know not if my neighbor was on the LGBTQ spectrum as I am (being a cisgender gay man), and I would never assume anyone's sexual identity, but we were absolutely on the same page emotionally.

Credit: Film Rise

The woman and I went through a range of emotions: we laughed together, we muttered snarky commentary at the screen, and we cried together. I distinctly remember when, at the emotional climax of the film, she reached over and grabbed my arm. It seemed so natural, as if one of my friends had just done it, but I simply didn't know her — and that blows my mind even to this day. Keep in mind we still hadn't been properly introduced at this point and, spoiler alert, we never would be.

Eventually the movie came to an end, the lights were turned back on, and the audience rose from their seats to exit. There was a brief instance when the woman and I seemed like we might discuss what we'd just been through, but that didn't happen. Perhaps we were both waiting for the other person to make the first move or perhaps we wanted to preserve the experience altogether. I can never be sure but, between you and me, let's just consider this a Missed Connection ad.

Beyond the fact that The Miseducation of Cameron Post is an important movie, in my opinion at least, I likely won't ever forget this theater experience. It was a pure thing and showed me that you can have a moment of catharsis with someone you don't even know. Whether the mystery woman knows it or not, seeing this film with her was something I needed and she made a real impact on me.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is now in theaters nationwide.

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