When I was a kid my dad’s favourite album was Queen: Greatest Hits. In our living room we had a fancy hi-fi which could hold 3 CDs in it at once. Well, two, considering the top spot was reserved for that record. My older brother had cassettes of pop music which he played on a small tinny sounding thing in his bedroom. In family spaces it was basically either Queen, or church music. I listened to a lot of Queen — but only their greatest hits.
I didn’t cry at all watching The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which seems to suggest that there’s something wrong with the film. Given my background I was sure that I would be a wreck the entire way through. But Desiree Akhavan is not interested in mining the story of young queer folks in enrolled in full time conversion therapy for the bleak, helpless, tragedy that many of those who suffered through such experiences describe it as. Instead we spend much of the time here looking at the moments that would help one survive it.
This movie is a mess.
Seriously. It is an ugly looking, confusingly paced, poorly acted thing that follows a script which lurches drunkenly between the incomprehensible and the banal. It is confused and focusless, any scene with more than a couple of characters turns into an exercise in geographic confusion, something of an achievement considering how small and empty so many of these locations are. It has the worst budget CGI sequences, which usually are excusable in indie films (the folks don’t have much money) but here they are disasterously conceived and feel so unneccessary. And, while I appreciate its intention in being a tonally diverse genre mashup, it does not have a strong enough control of either tone or genre to ever feel like a cohesive whole.
I guess after 45 Years Andrew Haigh could pretty much take on any project that he liked. It seems fitting that he’d reach for a story taking place at the other end of life. Of all the ages that the young protagonist of Lean on Pete gives the youngest is fifteen. I think that’s the one that we’re supposed to believe, it’s the one that he gives when he has the least to prove, when the cruelties of the world have finally ground him down enough to be honest with those around him. I guess it is just a reminder that pain can be keenly felt whatever age you are.
Young queer lives can be so fuckin messy. You often only realise it later. You remember that loose mix of outcast kids that were about at school? The goths, nerds, emos and just general weirdos who generally just hung out with each other because they didn’t make up a large enough group in thei own circles. Yeah, that was me. You’d be surprised, or not, by how many of us has came out after leaving. As if our fragile presence was both supporting and constricting.
I suppose we all have our gets. It don’t really matter how saccharine or whitewashy or manipulative queer historical fiction gets, I will always be onboard.
Most of the time I’ve spent ‘writing’ this review has actually been spent researching James Baldwin. Reading extracts from his essays, novels, plays; watching him appear on the talk shows that the film extracts from; that famous 1965 Cambridge debate with William F. Buckley Jr. to whom the film rightly does not give a voice.… Continue reading I Am Not Your Negro: A tonic for the blind