Love, Simon (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Wonderfully acted and directed, Love, Simon is a breakthrough in LGBTQ cinema, and the first gay-themed love story produced by a major film studio.
If this movie doesn't make you smile or win your heart at some point along the way, you are probably dead inside.
Nick Robinson is terrific and his performance as Simon is complex, layered, and he creates a character who could be someone we all know.
The teen romantic comedy genre is your least favorite genre of movies.
You believe that kids like Simon, and other LGBTQ youth, don't need a movie like this and everything is fine for them and this just preaches an agenda.
Your prejudices are insurmountable, and you cannot move past them.
Love, Simon matters.
Making history as the first-ever major studio release to feature a gay-themed love story, Greg Berlanti’s film, released by 20th Century Fox, will always have a historical marker attached with it. While Moonlight won three Oscars in 2016, including Best Picture, and Call Me by Your Name won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay this past year, high profile LGBTQ love stories have, up to this point, been independently financed and distributed.
And so, yeah, without a shadow of a doubt, and again, for the people in the back, Love, Simon matters.
This type of breakthrough, in 2018 no less, is long overdue. And I can already hear people, ready to tear apart the film, for its teen, romantic comedy look and feel, and intentional softening of some of the real struggles gay people face when coming out. However, Berlanti and his impressive stable of actors, deliver a story that shows a side of the human experience that more mainstream movie audiences may have never sat down and witnessed before.
Love, Simon is a wonderful, endearing, and moving film. There is proper awkwardness, sweet temperament, and a star-making turn from lead actor Nick Robinson in the title role, all coming together with a winning and thoughtful script from “This Is Us” writers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker. In adapting Becky Albertalli’s book “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda,” we have a film which just might allow folks to see the LGBTQ community in an entirely new way.
Love, Simon is at ease, serving as a film more reminiscent of the goofy, teenage rom-coms of recent years. The film retains an air of John Hughes’ 1980’s-era teen comedies. And that is alright though. We can have both the Love, Simon's and the Call Me by Your Name's of the world. The tent is big. All can fit underneath.
For 17-year-old Simon Spier (Robinson), who masks who he is about as good as he possibly can, he has strength in numbers. His crew of close friends, soccer star Nick (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), senior year transplant Abby (Alexandra Shipp), and childhood BFF Leah (Katherine Langford), carpool with Simon every day, grab iced coffees each morning, and make it school with time to spare before first period. Bonds are tight. School looks fun. Life seems easy enough.
However, Simon’s secret is starting to weigh heavy on him and when an anonymous classmate comes out as gay on a private, high school student-led blog, Simon adopts the alias of Jacques, comes out to the student, and begins corresponding with someone known as “Blue.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the basic plot points from here on out. With that said, Love, Simon pushes through what’s easy and constantly steers the focus on the careful, guarded navigation that Simon must continually guide himself through each and every day. Robinson is terrific in the subtleties he displays, always having to be “on” and making sure that he is the Simon every person believes him to be.
Berlanti, whose extensive television background serves him well here, keeps things efficient and engaging and plays up the mystery of identifying “Blue” in a clever, could-it-be-might-it-be kind of way.
Even as it dovetails into an increasingly hard-to-believe subplot involving Simon’s escalating frustrations with an obnoxious drama student, Martin (Logan Miller), who hopes to blackmail Simon for nefarious reasons, the movie regains its footing when it settles on a main character we can relate to. Robinson's performance shows us that Simon could be that neighbor kid, our child’s best friend from school, or someone we feel we already know personally.
In one of the decade’s best films, 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, teenager Charlie (Logan Lerman) is sorting through personal trauma in his freshman year of high school, stumbling into a close friendship with a group of older kids who accept him and take him under their wing. In a pivotal scene he tells a heartbroken best friend, played by Emma Watson, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Perhaps with Love, Simon playing at the multiplex, next to, say, Disney films, Marvel adaptations and mega blockbuster films, another audience will finally have a chance to see themselves reflected back to them on screen, earning a long overdue love story they have deserved for a mighty long time.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Logan Miller, Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., Keiynan Lonsdale, Talitha Bateman, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Miles Heizer, Joey Pollari, Clark Moore.
Director: Greg Berlanti
Written by: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
Based on the novel "Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: March 16, 2018
20th Century Fox