Female Gaze: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhaven, 2018)

By Spencer Iaquinto

The Criterion Channel puts a great emphasis on women filmmakers through their curated collection of films, “Female Gaze: Women Directors + Women Cinematographers.” A teaser of the collection gives an inside look on the impact women have had on the world of cinema. The teaser opens up with retro footage of cheerleaders in an older film with bright red pompoms cheering for their football team. Notable spotlights include filmmaker Jane Campion, who expressed her secret to success was to first confront her potential if she really tried hard in the industry.

The “Female Gaze” collection features 49 films, including the works of female director and actor Desiree Akhaven in her most notable feature film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018). The film is set in rural Montana and settles around the titular character of Cameron Post (Chloe Grace Moretz) as she deals with the challenges of being interested in the same gender during the 1990’s. Mindi Rhoades writes a touching article called “LGBTQ Youth + Video Artivism: Arts-Based Critical Civic Praxis,” in which she brings attention to the youth having their stories told to create awareness through media. Rhoades writes, “marginalized youth have found activism a powerful tactic for reaching broader audiences with narratives, experiences, and perspectives that contradict and complicate dominant ones” (317). Her article fits right in with the purpose of the film all while giving a proper perspective on how times have changed in relation to a sexuality-themed film based in the 90’s. 

The Criterion Channel

An elegant and clean layout fills the eyes of the viewer when embarking upon The Criterion Channel to see one of their 49 female gaze films. However, the platform is unlike the Detroit virtual cinema-going experiences I’ve had because we simply get no feel of there being a city or particular location that the website represents. Instead, the NYC-based Criterion Channel seems to represent global cinema culture. The introduction page features a soft black background accompanied by rows of film categorized by genre, top viewed, and feature collections. Specifics of each film pop up while hovering your mouse over the film’s cover image, which makes it simple to choose a film.

Staring us right in the face on the first page is the feature series of the “female gaze,” which then leads us to an inspiring teaser after clicking on the image. I believe we take for granted how easy it is to watch films in today’s modern times, either from our personal hand held phones or from a laptop inches from our eyes. Virtual cinema-going requires zero preparation compared to going to the theatre where you have to drive, blindly look for your seats, and have babies crying in the distance. Although it used to seem like going to the theatre gave you the best experience, modern times–especially with the pandemic–show people how much more convenient it is watching from the couch. One thing I think we can all agree on is that there is nothing like movie theatre popcorn, which is almost the deciding factor for me when it comes to diving into films.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The cast of The Miseducation of Cameron Post is phenomenal. The acting we see from Chloe Grace Moretz as Cameron is exceptional, especially in intimate scenes where emotions are hard to control. The opening scene is unique: we hear the pastor’s voice before we see him from a slow upward tilt as he sits on his desk in front of teenagers holding bibles at their desks. This scene of the conversion therapy camp called “Gods Promise” foreshadows where we will see Cameron in later scenes. 

The story is put together well with insights to the 90’s and the harsh reality bi curious kids had to live through since same sex relationships were looked at as “the devil’s work” in some communities. The soundtrack of classical tunes brings character while adding great insight to the era surrounding the film. The shot selection throughout the scenes work well together and help tell the story with seamless transitions that put the acting to the test with close up shots showing immense detail.

Experimental types of shots add a different sense of realism to the film, such as a high angle shot of Cameron transitioning to a low angle during her time of pleasure with Coley (Quinn Shephard). It’s almost as if we are there in person with the characters, which helps our understanding of how a teenager reacts to their sexuality being questioned. One shot in particular shows a long wide angle medium shot of Cameron and prom queen Coley in the backseat of her boyfriend’s car getting intimate (see Figure 1). The girls are startled by an interruption by Cameron’s boyfriend, leaving Cameron speechless at first; she finally gets out an apology with a close up of her startled face. A shot sequence like this offers is a deeper look into the personal life of a teenage girl who is told that her object of love and affection is wrong.

Fig. 1: Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Coley (Quinn Shephard) share an intimate kissing session in her boyfriend’s car moments before he stumbles upon them (The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Parkville Pictures, 2018).

In “Distribution Is Queen: LGBTQ Media on Demand,” Candace Moore writes that “festivals have become the major marketplace for independent queer directors to peddle their wares to distributors” (139). Similarly, websites like the Criterion Channel that choose to screen queer films like Miseducation make a difference in bringing to light same-gender desire.

The opening shot sequence immediately captured my attention and kept me locked in with the following scenes being just as unique and compelling. The soundtrack is one of the reasons why I watched it more than once because I’m simply attracted to older tunes–especially when they fit into the film so smoothly. Soft orchestrated music hits the ears during scenes that offer a close up of the real life scenarios that a confused teenager would be going through. The melodies take many of us back to our high school days, especially in scenes such as the school’s prom. The virtual cinema-going experience allowed me to rewatch the film, which I appreciated in this instance.

Works Cited

Akhaven, Desiree, director. The Miseducation of Cameron Post. The Criterion Channel, 2018, https://www.criterionchannel.com/female-gaze-women-directors-women-cinematographers/season:1/videos/the-miseducation-of-cameron-post. Accessed 11 Dec. 2021. 

Moore, Candace. “Distribution Is Queen: LGBTQ Media on Demand.” Cinema Journal, vol. 53, no. 1, 2013, pp. 137–44, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43653641.

Rhoads, Mindi. “LGBTQ Youth + Video Artivism: Arts-Based Critical Civic Praxis.” Studies in Art Education, vol. 53, no. 4,  2012, pp. 317–29, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24467920.


One thought on “Female Gaze: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhaven, 2018)

  1. Great review. You’re strong formal analysis really made me feel like I was there watching the film. I definitely want to check the film out now after reading your review. Your paper was smoothly written.


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