When writer-director Desiree Akhavan was first introduced to The Miseducation Of Cameron Post book, she instantly connected with the “coming-of-age novel that was queer” and reflective of her own upbringing.
Speaking at Deadline’s Sundance Studio in Park City, the Akhavan shared her filmmaking approach is “to make films that are really honest and true to my life and the world as I see it. I really loved this story because it fiercely advocated for ugliness and people and how they don’t mean to be ugly.”
The pic stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Cameron Post, a high school girl who, after being caught with another girl in the back seat of a car on prom night, is shipped off to a conversion therapy center. At the facility, Cameron is subjected to outlandish discipline, dubious “de-gaying” methods, and earnest Christian rock songs — but this unusual setting also provides her with an unlikely gay community.
“Cameron was such an interesting character because no matter the adversity that she was put up against, everything she went through going to the conversion camp and dealing with kind of the onslaught of emotion from being caught with the love of her life, she kept this positivity through it and she followed her heart,” said Moretz. “It was so special to see a young character like Cameron be able to stand up to someone of authority.”
Akhavan and Moretz were joined by co-stars Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Emily Skeggs, and Jennifer Ehle.
The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.