Director: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity. (Source: IMDb)
LGBT+ cinema is booming right now, and whilst usually targeting awards season, Love, Simon is instead targeting more of a teen audience, presenting a thoroughly modern rom-com. Both a coming-of-age and a coming-out comedy, Love, Simon‘s heart is undoubtedly in the right place and it is one of those films which is impossible not to be charmed by.
Whilst it uses the teen movie tropes that we’re all familiar with, focusing instead on a gay teen who is battling which is own sexuality means that it offers a fresh perspective. There’s some recognizable parallels with Hilary Duff’s A Cinderella Story (2004) (no, really!) and these traditional fairy-tale sensibilities work well with the otherwise modern fable. It manages to be entirely relatable, particularly for a young audience, and not just if you’re gay, but for anyone who is trying to navigate through life and trying to find themselves.
The characters are close to the line of cliche – that’s a common theme for the entire film sadly – but they are at least sufficiently developed, if a little stereotypical. Nick Robinson as the titular Simon is particularly likeable, and in some of more emotional moments in the film, is able to sell this despite the failings of the script.
The script is really what lets Love, Simon down although this can be overlooked considering how likeable the rest of the film is. It struggles to avoid the genre cliches, and the cheese gets a little too much sometimes. The contrasts in the writing are a little jarring as well, there’s some hilarious razor sharp one-liners – mostly delivered by the drama teacher played by Natasha Rothwell – but also some lines so cheesy you cannot help but cringe.
That being said, Love, Simon is so charming and really smart in places which makes up for the plot contrivances and script weaknesses. There is a particularly funny sequence which flips the “coming-out” narrative on its head and imagines a world in which kids have to sit their parents down and tell them they’re straight. Its hilarious, but also surprisingly thought-provoking, and indeed the film’s message of tolerance and being your true self are what come through strongest in the end.
I saw this movie and you should too. Sweet, honest, funny, and impossible not to like at least a little bit, Love, Simon is a lovely little movie with some genuinely touching moments. It isn’t perfect, but it is so wonderful that a film like this exists, and if it helps teenagers and kids acknowledge and accept their feelings, then even better!