While one shouldn’t doubt the sincerity of this period drama about so-called gay conversion therapy (sometimes called reparative therapy), “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” isn’t edgy or insightful enough to escape the lingering feel of a well-intentioned after-school special.

It’s 1993, and Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) has moved in with her aunt and uncle after her parents’ death in a car accident. Her best friend is Coley (Quinn Shephard), with whom she’s already having a sexual relationship. They double-date for the school prom, but afterward are discovered with one another in the back seat rather than the boys they’d gone to the dance with, and Cameron’s guardian (Kerry Butler) decides to enroll her in God’s Promise, a Christian camp devoted to “curing” youngsters with homosexual tendencies from the “illness” of same-sex attraction through a combination of scriptural study, healthy communal work and group therapy. Heading the program are good-natured Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.), a supposed success story of the technique, and his sterner psychologist sister Lydia (Jennifer Ehle).

The film centers on the often strained connections Cameron makes not only with Rick and Lydia, but with her fellow patients. These include her roommate (Emily Skeggs), who is desperately trying to conform to expectations even as she struggles with her real feelings, and Mark (Owen Cameron), a resident whom Lydia considers cured and who’s eager to go back home. But the ones Cameron falls in with are the rebellious skeptics—Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane), a girl with a prosthetic leg who hasn’t let the program interfere with her love of weed, and Adam (Forrest Goodluck), a Native American who describes his preferences in terms of his tribe’s notion that some people embody two spirits, male and female.

This is an episodic tale in which some sequences stand out, for both good and ill. One, in which Cameron reconnects with Coley both by phone and letter, carries considerable power, because Moretz plays it with dramatic strength. Another, where the kids burst into song while working in the camp kitchen, only to have their exuberance stilled by Lydia, seems a contrivance designed to italicize her buzz-killing influence. And a third, in which Mark explodes in group after being told that his father will not welcome him back home because he remains too “effeminate,” is well-written, but hobbled by Campbell’s flawed technique. It is, moreover followed by a twist that strikes a melodramatic chord.

One of the picture’s strengths is that though the makers obviously view conversion therapy as misguided, they do not present its practitioners at God’s Promise as fraudulent or malevolent. Rick is obviously still struggling to maintain his veneer of confidence that he’s changed, and though Lydia is depicted as a distinctly darker person, even she isn’t portrayed as a complete monster.

Another is the quality of most of the performances. Moretz is excellent, and Lane nonchalantly right on, while Skeggs and Goodluck deliver nicely nuanced turns. Some of the other supporting players are more amateurish, but they’re obviously trying hard, and technically the picture is fine, though it clearly shows the limitations of a modestly-budgeted production: Markus Kirshner’s production design looks authentic, and Ashley Connor’s camerawork is straightforward, while Stacey Berman’s costumes sidestep the inclination to take a period look to extremes.

Conversion therapy has in recent years been widely criticized on scientific and cultural grounds, and in some states its practice has been banned. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” would have been more welcome had it appeared earlier—even the novel by Emily M. Danforth from which it’s been adapted appeared only in 2012—but since the technique is still employed in many areas by fundamentalist groups, its appearance now can still help to encourage conversation on the subject. Overall, though, the film represents an opportunity neither entirely seized nor totally flubbed.