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Review: Love, Simon – “Genuine and heartfelt”

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When was the last time you saw a teen rom-com produced by a major studio with a gay protagonist? That’s right, never. The indie market is usually filled with queer coming of age stories grabbing the spotlight on the festival circuit and in some cases, all the way to awards season, like Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece Call Me By Your Name did last year. But I dare you to find an auteur-less studio film purposely designed for a box office wide release.

The posters and promotional material couldn’t have said it any better, everyone does deserve a great love story. What becomes even clearer after watching Love, Simon is that everyone also deserves fair and genuine representation in mainstream cinema and that’s why this little film made by Twentieth Century Fox, is indeed a game changer. In order to maximize the enjoyment of your viewing experience, my advice is to leave any hint of cynicism at home.

The greatest thing the creative team behind Love, Simon has done was creating a precedent – and what a team at that! Maybe it’s not a case that in the golden age of television, Greg Berlanti, the powerhouse producer/creator/writer behind several of American TV’s current hits like The Flash, Arrow and Riverdale decided to helm this important little studio film. After all, the openly gay filmmaker has already made history, being part of the creative forces responsible for one of the most iconic moments on primetime television, the infamous gay kiss (and storyline) on cult teen drama Dawson’s Creek in the late 90s.

Here Berlanti brings his decades-long experience telling emotional stories (he also created cult family drama Everwood and ran popular family saga Brothers and Sisters) and takes it to the next level with a tasteful John Hughes-esque romance that exploits many teen movie tropes but gives a genuine and heartfelt spin to the genre with a story that will make viewers swoon, no matter their sexual orientation.

Minor spoilers ahead.

Simon Spier, played with buckets of charm by Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) is your average teenager, living an average teenage life in an average American small town. However, as he points out in his interior monologue at the very beginning, he’s got a “huge-ass secret”: he’s gay. Even if blessed with liberal, open-minded parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) that would most definitely make for a drama-free coming out experience, Simon is still understandably terrified at the prospect.

The boy’s outlook on life however soon changes when he strikes up an anonymous email correspondence with a kid from his school who’s also gay and looking for a connection but who is even more reluctant than Simon when it comes to the idea of coming out. As their online friendship grows deeper and stronger, Simon develops feelings for the mysterious “Blue” and is determined to eventually meet him.

The school year goes by with the typical milestones of homecoming, Halloween parties and Christmas holidays and whilst hanging out with his friends, studying and rehearsing for the school play, Simon mentally investigates who Blue might be in real life but doesn’t seem to have much luck guessing. What he soon has to deal with though is an unexpected threat to his secret from a classmate who accidentally bumps into his email correspondence with Blue.

Martin (Logan Miller), the blackmailer, has a huge crush on Simon’s friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and forces him to play matchmaker unless he wants his secret exposed. The poor boy doesn’t have much choice, though his major preoccupation is losing Blue’s trust rather than being outed himself. Yet Martin’s pathetic scheme puts Simon in the awkward and uncomfortable position of messing with his friends’ feelings as Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) is in love with Abby but Simon pushes him towards Leah (Katherine Langford).

It’s no surprise that Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, writers and executive producers of NBC’s emotionally charged drama This Is Us have done such a remarkable job at translating Becky Albertalli’s beautiful novel, Simon vs the homo sapiens agenda for the screen. Love, Simon gracefully maintains the essence of the book’s plot and themes but skillfully crafts new elements to make the story more cinematic and in the process, delivers an exquisite and flawless work of adaptation, brilliantly directed with emotional balance by Greg Berlanti.

Anchored by a talented cast, which is led by a pitch-perfect Nick Robinson, this coming out dramedy is an instant coming of age classic, destined to change the landscape for mainstream cinema when it comes to LGBTQI+ storytelling. It may be a liberal fantasy (like Bret Easton Ellis has called it in his usual cynical fashion) but it’s one we desperately need right now. Cinema has the power to ignite all sorts of feelings and this film inspires us to find the courage to be ourselves, which is commendable, especially within the realm of escapist entertainment.

Since the very beginning, Simon is aware of being lucky with the life he’s got and his coming out anxiety mainly depends on his internal struggle with self-acceptance, rather than external factors. It’s something that only those who have faced such a delicate, life-changing experience can truly understand and the film handles it with honesty, avoiding sentimental pitfalls.

The most emotionally charged moment in the movie is when Simon owns his coming out with an act of bravery that instils empowering feelings worthy of Death Poets Society’s “Oh Captain, My Captain” and for that alone, the film is worth the price of admission. If I, a now married gay man, felt that way, I can’t even imagine how empowered a closeted kid might feel after watching Love, Simon. I wish I knew…

Love, Simon is out in UK cinemas from April 6th.

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5 Comments

  1. it is an awesome teaser guys, I liked it.

  2. Great review sharing.

  3. Thanks for sharing an awesome review.
    Great and best teaser.

  4. Awesome review shared. It’s made my day.
    Thanks!

  5. Thank you very much for sharing interesting articles

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