Film Review: ‘Love, Simon’

DF-08349 – Nick Robinson stars as Simon in Twentieth Century Fox’s LOVE, SIMON. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.

Every great love story deserves a great movie.

Simon is a teenager who seems to have a great life; with a loving family and a close group of friends that he hangs out with at school. There is just one thing about Simon that no one knows; he is gay. As he is beginning his final year of high school, Simon is starting to come to terms with this fact but finds it difficult to tell anyone, as he wants to come out on his own terms. One night, while browsing through social media, he comes across a post by a fellow classmate who reveals to be closeted himself and goes by a false name, “Blue.” Simon emails Blue, using the pseudo name “Jacques,” confessing that he is going through the same problem and the two bond finding comfort in their shared secret.

One day, a fellow classmate of Simon’s named Martin uncovers Simon’s email exchanges with “Blue,” and blackmails Simon, threatening to reveal everything unless Simon hooks him up with one of his female friends, whom he crushes on. Simon is forced to accept this deal, to protect both his and “Blue’s” secrets. In the meantime, Simon surveys every male student in the school to try to identify who “Blue” really is. Will he succeed and have the love life he deserves like everyone else?

Every once in a while, you find a film that helps you rediscover your appreciation for storytelling. I was not expecting much from Love, Simon, just another young adult coming of age drama, which has become a tired genre. The first ten minutes of this film were proving my fears to be real because the tone felt disjointed. Then, suddenly, something started happening as I continued watching. I started caring about Simon’s predicament, as well as his relationships with his friends, family, and teachers. When the Simon’s secret is finally revealed and everyone responds to it, it was then that I realized that I have found one of my personal favorite films of the year so far.

I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed Love, Simon, and it is evident that the filmmakers have approached this story with heart. The film is based on the book ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli. I have personally not read the book, but if the filmmakers stayed true to the source material, I might just have to pick it up. The film is well written, rightfully balancing humor with touching drama, as well as the genuinely compelling mystery of who Simon’s secret admirer is.

The filmmakers succeed at allowing the audience to understand and sympathize the people in Simon’s life and how they relate to him, and that is due to a string of excellent performances from the actors playing them. I especially liked the school’s theater director, Ms. Albright, played wonderfully by Natasha Rothwell. The scene where she confronts two homophobic bullies is particularly remarkable, and even got a few cheers from my audience (I joined in too.) Even Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner, as Simon’s parents, each have a wonderful heart to heart conversation with Simon. These moments are the best that I have seen from these two actors in quite a while.

Nick Robinson has shown in the past with roles in Jurassic World and Everything, Everything that he can be a grand presence in a film. This time, he is taking the main lead role, and he is absolutely wonderful as Simon. Simon is such an easy person to relate to and feel for, because the audience is there with Simon at every point in his story, that even though Simon makes poor decisions allows his conflict to snowball, it is understandable why he does this.

We as audience members must bear in mind that no film is perfect, and Love, Simon is no exception. Some of the humor is over the top, and most of these scenes revolve around the high school’s vice principal, played by Tony Hale, who is more than a bit extravagant. After the first ten minutes, he does show himself to be more human than the first ten minutes suggested. While a bit exaggerated, his character is not horrible. The real character to fill the void of “horrible” is Martin, Simon’s blackmailer. His actions just seem too cruel towards Simon, even though he is not a bully himself. In addition, most of his attempts at winning the affection of Simon’s friend are downright toe-curling to sit through. Even though he does receive an ounce of redemption towards the end, I still do not feel like it is enough for his actions.

These flaws are borderline insignificant, however, as the film’s heart is so strong. There is also something else that I have noticed about this film, in that many teen romance films made by big studios like FOX are between a male and a female. While there have been several LGBT romance films made in the past few years, it is nice to see some finally getting made by mainstream studios.

‘Love, Simon’ is a heartwarming and sincere love story, and one that I feel that people need. With a strong lead performance from Nick Robinson, a touching story with smart writing, this film will touch your heart and help open the door for new, and different love stories. I was glad that I saw it, and look forward to seeing it a few more times afterward.

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