Frances Winston found this gay-themed coming of age/coming out film to be refreshing and sweet, and feels it may even become a classic, to the LGBT community at any rate.
Directed by: Greg Berlanti – Starring: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Josh Duhamel
Romantic dramadies are 10-a-penny. Romantic dramadies with gay protagonists are not. In fact, mainstream big studio movies rarely take a chance on movies featuring a gay lead, often shoehorning them into someone else’s love story as the token gay best friend, or a tiny subplot.
This is what makes Love, Simon so refreshing. Based on the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, it follows closested teen, Simon Spier (Robinson) as he navigates his way through coming out.
He has a wonderful family and fantastic friends and a very normal life, and is afraid of what his revelation will do to that. When another teen comes out on an anonymous website, he begins an email correspondence with them, and the two support each other as they debate how and when to come out and share their stories.
Unfortunately, a cruel classmate, Martin (Miller) manages to screengrab their messages, and uses them to blackmail Simon into setting him up with one of his friends, and he must now face up to the reality of being publicly outed if he doesn’t do as they say.
Part of what makes this film so good is the familiarity. We have all seen these high school coming-of-age dramas. The only difference is that the protagonist is gay. And aside from the blackmail drama, there is a sweet mystery at the heart of this, as Simon tries to figure out who his mystery online pen-pal is, as his feelings for them grow.
The words sweet and charming are bandied about a lot for movies like this, but Love, Simon is truly is one of the sweetest movies you will encounter. It completely normalises the fact that Simon is gay, and doesn’t use it as a sensational kicking-off point. It is probably an important moment in the battle for inclusion, but these facts only become apparent in hindsight, several years later. It is ridiculously funny, but also deeply moving, and it is almost impossible not to fall in love with it.
All of the actors do a fantastic job, and Robinson is amazing as Simon. Garner and Duhamel as his parents are surprisingly good, and very much a part of his story, rather than being sidelined to focus on the teens. This is aided by a witty, warm, and thoughtful script. There is also some lovely cinematography, and a belting soundtrack holds it all together.
This has all the benchmarks of an instant classic that you could watch again and again, and should definitely help some young people struggling to come out. While everyone’s coming out story is different, the angst people feel about how other’s will react is the same. By showing this as a normal part of the growing up experience, and that everyone else is also suffering angst over something, they have managed to strip away a lot of the stigma.
Not just a fantastic movie, but an important movie in terms of the LGBT community, this will warm the cockles of your heart, and leave you with the warm and fuzzies.
In Cinemas Now! Trailer below: