Love, Simon is a charming, hilarious, coming-of-age romantic comedy film that is perfect for today’s generation. Based on the novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and directed by Greg Berlanti, it is noted for being the first major studio film to feature a gay teenage love story. Fun fact: Nick Robinson, who plays the titular character, revealed on The Ellen Show that his younger brother came out to him when he started filming the movie. Robinson stated how he hoped that Love, Simon would further conversations about inclusiveness and representation. The film achieves his goal as Berlanti excellently portrays the trials and tribulations that gay teenagers experience in their lives.
The story focuses on Simon Spier, a 17-year-old boy who has one huge secret: no one knows that he’s gay. When an anonymous student, who calls himself “Blue”, reveals that he’s also a closeted gay on the school online confession website, Simon opens up to him and the two begin a secret romance as they get to know each other through their private emails. However, their romance becomes threatened when Simon’s classmate, Martin (Logan Miller), blackmails him after discovering his secret.
Berlanti does a great job at creating the chemistry between Simon and Blue. The scenes of these two characters introducing themselves to each other are wonderful because they are both on the same journey towards self-acceptance. Berlanti will take you on a fun and suspenseful ride, presenting Blue as a likable and mysterious character that helps Simon become more comfortable with himself. The growth of Simon’s amazing character development is highlighted when Berlanti features a fantasy sequence of a future Simon in college, embracing his sexuality by dancing to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” with his classmates. This fantasy sequence is awesomely gay and satisfying that it will make you want to get out of your seat and dance along. Throughout the film, you’ll become fascinated as Simon tries to figure out Blue’s identity, which will also make you ask yourself: “Who is Blue?”
The young diverse cast is refreshing to watch. Although most of the film is about Simon, Berlanti successfully makes you feel connected with his awesome group of friends. Katherine Langford’s performance as Simon’s best friend, the shy and sarcastic Leah Burke, is impeccable as she displays the awkward innocence of a teenage girl. Like Simon, Leah feels lost and seeks acceptance.
Katherine Langford and Nick Robinson are a lovable onscreen duo, sharing many hilarious and touching scenes together. Langford delivers one of the most relatable lines in the film when she says: “Sometimes, I feel like I’m always on the outside. There’s this invisible line that I have to cross to really be a part of everything and I just can’t ever cross it.”. And when Robinson responds back to her saying: “Me too.”, you feel for their characters.
The light-hearted joy and nostalgic tone in the film is present through the young cast as Berlanti showcases the adolescent adventures and struggles of growing up. You might remember fun times with your high school best friends while watching Simon and his crew dress up for a Halloween party, attend football games and grab coffee in the mornings. You also might remember how awful high school could seem at times. Just like many other high school films, bullying is present throughout Love Simon when an obnoxious duo decides to relentlessly pick on the openly gay student, Ethan (Clark Moore). And when Ethan stands up against these bullies with the most hilarious comebacks, you instantly root for the kid. These scenes show how terrifying it can be for gay teenagers to come out.
At one point, the film addresses an important topic when Simon states: “I’ve been thinking about why I haven’t come out yet. Maybe part of me wants to hold onto who I’ve always been, just a little longer. Maybe because it doesn’t seem fair that only gay people have to come out. Why is straight the default?” Berlanti utilizes another incredible fantasy sequence, showing Simon’s best friends coming out to their parents as heterosexuals. This fantasy sequence is hilarious as it shows the reactions of these parents being mortified after learning that their child is straight.
It also raises some questions. Why does sexuality have to be such a big deal in society? Would it be fair if everyone, no matter what sexuality they are, had to come out? Or would it be better if no one had to come out? Simon’s statement about wanting to hold onto who he’s always been shows the uncomfortable aspect of experiencing change. Just like Simon, many people in the LGBT community are afraid to come out because they don’t want anyone to treat them differently.
The adult cast also contribute to the happy energy of the film. Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner give amazing performances as Jack and Emily, Simon’s parents. Their scenes with Robinson bring a different tone to the film, making you feel like they’re an actual family. The heartwarming aspect about Love, Simon is that Berlanti presents Jack and Emily as supportive parents who have a close relationship with their son, showing that Simon has a normal life even though he’s gay.
Garner gives one of the most emotional monologues that will definitely make your eyes watery: “I knew you had a secret. When you were little, you were so carefree. But these last few years, more and more, it’s almost like I could feel you holding your breath. You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you have been, in a very long time. You deserve everything you want.” Garner’s powerful speech is uplifting as it highlights the positive reaction that many people in the LGBT community hope to receive when they come out to their loved ones. Her speech normalizes that it’s okay to be who you are, which could possibly inspire others to be true to themselves.
Robinson’s lead portrayal as Simon is outstanding as he perfectly displays the anxious, caring, and courageous qualities that many gay teenagers have in society. Everyone can relate to Simon because many people are still trying to figure out who they are. The unique aspect about Love, Simon is that Berlanti features Simon going through life as a closeted teenager in a humorous, smart way. One scene features a flashback to when Simon had a girlfriend who revealed that she was in love with him at a school dance. The look of terror on Simon’s face will crack you up as he runs off the dance floor and locks himself in the school’s bathroom.
When he decides to text his mom that his classmates are drinking alcohol, so he can get picked up from the dance, you will feel relieved that he never ended up having sex with his girlfriend that night. Robinson has this endearing, warm hearted presence that will make you root for him as his character transitions into a brave, self-assured man. When Simon confidently states in the film’s third act: “I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story and I want someone to share it with.”, you will believe and understand him. The most satisfying part about watching Love, Simon was the thunderous round of applause it received at the end. Seeing the many positive audience reactions shows how much our society has grown.
The film shows an important message that can be helpful to people who are struggling with their sexuality. However, Love, Simon is so much more than just a coming out story. It’s a film about acceptance, bravery, hope, love, redemption, and tolerance. Berlanti does a fantastic job at capturing the essence of the inner self. The film perfectly captures the insecurities that teenagers have about themselves and the acceptance that they need. With an incredible all-star cast, a hilarious screenplay and a sweet soundtrack, you will be in for a treat. Love, Simon is a modern-day John Hughes classic that will make you want to raise your first into the air.
Justin Coloyan is a blogger for CSUITEMUSIC.
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