Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Love, Simon: Movie Review

Heartfelt teen romance to fall for.
The marketing for Love, Simon has been catchy and clever. Their use of simple but cute puns hits the mark in just the right way, and the film doesn’t disappoint. It’s simple but cute and ultimately it’s a film that the world needs right now. A Hollywood romantic comedy for gay teens which feels like it should be a common genre by now, but in reality is hard to find on the big screen (even though the genre is thriving in the indie market, it’s just taken the big studios a bit longer). 2018

Directed by: Greg Berlanti

Screenplay by: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
Based on the novel by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford

There’s one scene that has been playing in all the commercials and trailers: all the supporting characters choosing to come out to their parents as straight, followed by the question, “Why do only gay people have to come out?” Implying that we’re going to delve straight into the sociological problem of heteronormativity. That’s what I was most looking forward to and unfortunately let down by. The concept of heteronormativity is hinted at, with a handful of lines, but there’s only the one throw away scene, which everybody has already seen.

So maybe Hollywood isn’t ready to challenge heterosexual norms of society, but at least we get to have a main character who has already discovered his sexuality (posters of Daniel Radcliffe helped with that) and is currently questioning the how, when and to whom he reveals his sexual orientation. Simon (Nick Robinson) is a normal teen – albeit one with a car, an extremely close-knit family, and a super close female friend who is allowed to have sleepovers in his room (despite the fact that nobody knows he’s gay). I question how normal he actually is, but that’s not the point. The point is that being gay doesn’t change who he is, and being gay doesn’t automatically make him different.

Nick Robinson (Simon) and Katherine Langford (Leah) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s LOVE, SIMON.
Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein - TM & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Simon’s friend Leah (Katherine Langford) is obsessed with a gossip blog that circulates their high school and one day there’s a post by an anonymous user announcing that he’s gay. Simon is now awarded with the benefit of coming out to a stranger, who isn’t actually a stranger but someone he goes to school with, but he doesn’t know who.

There’s the usual drama that comes with keeping secrets, but the film also has a lot of good aspects. The mystery identity of Simon’s new online crush is handled well - I was positive I had it figured out but turns out I was wrong, there were also a few twists that I was anticipating that never actually happened. As familiar as the plot is, it still has a fresh approach.

Robinson is particularly adept with Simon’s awkwardness – one of his characteristics which is most likely to resonate with teen viewers. Robinson and his parents played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel also handle the comedy and drama mix very effectively.

The comedy part has many supporting actors who stood out including Tony Hall as trying-to-be-cool Vice Principal, and Logan Miller as the love-obsessed Martin. Love, Simon is funny, cute and it has a very worthwhile message even if it’s not all that ground-breaking.