‘Love, Simon’ is a very welcome message

Review: The film is a landmark in LGBTQ representation, but succeeds on its own merits

Nick Robinson in ‘Love, Simon’

Film Title: Love, Simon

Director: Greg Berlanti

Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jennifer Garner, Tony Hale

Genre: Romance

Running Time: 109 min

Tue, Apr 10, 2018, 12:30

   

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is a much-admired high-school senior growing up in a picture-perfect American suburb. He has “a perfectly normal life”, as he puts it.

As it happens, that’s something of an understatement. His friends are bubbly and gorgeous. His parents are loving and understanding and played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel. His younger sister is the opposite of bratty. It shouldn’t be a big deal for Simon to come out, and yet it is. The closeted gay teen is fearful that his life will change and just a little resentful that straight teens don’t have to endure the same ritual.

When Simon begins an online correspondence with “Blue”, another secretly gay teen at his high school, he begins to speculate excitedly about the true identity of his pseudonymous pen-pal. Might it be the handsome footballer? Or the waiter at the waffle house? Or someone involved in the hilariously catastrophic school production of Cabaret? He’s no closer to knowing when his orientation is uncovered by Martin, a class klutz who attempts to blackmail Simon.

Fearful of being unmasked, Simon soon gets caught up in a web of deception.

A decade ago, one might have sat down to a John Hughes movie marathon and wistfully wondered: “Where have all the teen movies gone?”

In recent years, however, the genre is back with a bang and with several titles – notably The Edge of Seventeen and Dope – that not only equal, but surpass the entire Hughesian oeuvre. Love, Simon is yet another worthy contender.

Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker’s script, adapted from Becky Albertalli’s bestselling YA novel Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, allows its characters to sometimes do horrible things without being horrible people. There are snivel-into-your-sleeve emotionally engaging moments and grand punch-the-air scenes.

Some critics have argued that the film – a landmark in terms of LGBTQ representation – is pink-washing. Certainly, no one would ever mistake this shiny, glossy movie for the queerer pictures in the Gregg Araki archive. But this is a studio comedy, and in studio comedies the sun always shines on clear-faced teens as they drive their cars to school. Equal opportunities wish-fulfilment has arrived.