Director: Greg Berlanti
Writer(s): Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
Release date: 29/03/2018 (Australia)
Classification: M (Australia)
Running Time: 110 mins
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Cast: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.
“I’m just like you” – Simon Spier
Audiences won’t be disappointed with 2018’s iconic adolescent queer film, ‘Love, Simon’, which is based off the young adult novel ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli, and brought to life by the vision of Greg Berlanti (executive producer of Riverdale).
Featuring a stellar cast that upholds a sense of camaraderie and natural chemistry, including the likes of Nick Robinson (Everything, Everything), as Simon Spier, Jennifer Garner (Suddenly 30) and Josh Duhamel (Transformers) as Simon’s parents, along with Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men Apocalypse) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Brigsby Bear) as our protagonist’s friends, and not to mention an amazing set of fleshed-out, hilarious and genuinely real supporting characters, ‘Love, Simon’ is a film to be loved by the LGBTQ+ community, their allies, and anyone who enjoys a warm-hearted, youth-oriented story.
For our lead, Simon, everything is about to change when his queer sexuality is on the verge of exposure. However, the stakes, at first, don’t appear to present itself as dire, as we are introduced (with an accompanying voice over) to Simon’s somewhat ordinary life with his parents, younger sister, and close-knit friends Leah (Katherine Langford), Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and Abby (Alexandra Shipp), filled with warmth and inclusion.It all seems perfect apart from the fact that he is closeted, and dreaming of a life being openly gay, deep down inside, and fearing what sort of changes would occur, and whether or not he would still be accepted by his loved ones if doing so.
A spark of recognition occurs when his best friend Leah contacts Simon to tell him about the mysterious closeted gay kid ‘Blue’, who shares a post about his struggles on the Creek Secrets website, to which Simon is drawn in, feeling a sense of connection and familiarity with Blue’s experiences, and so, Simon chooses to pursue a form of contact with him via email in a bid to appease the struggle in coming to terms with his sexuality. Under the pen name ‘Jacques’, Simon regularly corresponds with Blue, and a series of heart-opening cinematographic and narrative sequences ensue to indicate the email exchange, with the identity of Blue changing throughout the course of the film to indicate Simon’s frequent daydreaming as he tries to pick out who his anonymous admirer really is.Unfortunately, one of Simon’s classmates, the obnoxious and comedic Martin (Logan Miller), accidentally uncovers those emails, and uses the knowledge of his gay identity in order to blackmail Simon into helping Martin score with Abby. The juxtaposition between the growing warmth that blossoms out of his online relationship with Blue, feeling somewhat alienated around his friends and family (in regards to his queerness despite their overall acceptance of him as a human being), and anxiously and awkwardly trying to set Abby up with Martin (which changes the group dynamic and even creates friction with Nick), all interplay over a number of scenes in a manner that is both sweet, humorous and light-hearted, with elements of dramatic tension. 20th Century Fox’s ‘Love, Simon’, is worth noting, considering it being the first LGBTQ+ teen romance film, that has been released by a major film studio. While I would like to see a queer film, or any young adult (or other genre) movie featuring more diverse lead characters (including people of colour, or those with disabilities, for example) more frequently, Simon’s story is definitely a landmark film that is putting the queer conversation on the map and into the mainstream, to promote tolerance and empathy, as enforced by the power of media. Audiences want to see characters on the big screen that they can relate to. Characters that are authentic and representative of people from real, living communities, and all walks of life.
That being said, I rate Love, Simon
*Note – the next page of the review will detail more visible spoilers and commentary regarding the film.