Love, Simon (2018) – Greg Berlanti

Love, Simon is a film directed by Greg Berlanti, based on the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015) by Becky Albertalli. It is by the same producers that made The Fault in Our Stars (2014), which is apparent from its tone. Love, Simon starring Nick Robinson as the lead character, is a sweet endearing film about how the titular character struggles with his closeted sexuality. The film is a feel good, coming of age depiction of Simon’s coming to terms with his sexual identity and the reservations he has about telling those closest to him his secret. When Blue, an anonymous gay teenager in Simon’s school comes out online, Simon finally feels he has someone he can confide in.

There are many parts of the film that feel relatable and grounded, as interactions feel genuine. Nick Robinson feels well cast, as he successfully portrays the light-hearted nature of the seventeen-year-old high schooler Simon, while in more dramatic scenes he is able to bring an intensity. Through his acting he is able to show what the character is going through, in his ability to express awkwardness, embarrassment, frustration and anger. Moreover, the editing of the film further builds this narrative and layers the film with moments that undeniably show Simon’s range of emotions. A tension is palpable in moments that he is stressed or angry for instance, as the sound becomes louder and more encompassing, adding to the drama of the piece and allowing the viewer to share in Simon’s experience.

The film has humour, and the characters presented are mainly likeable and enjoyable to watch interact with one another. It is Simon’s likeable nature and everyday persona that plunges the viewer into feeling sympathy for the character, and at times it feels as though we share in the emotional baggage Simon deals with. Simon’s voiceover throughout the film is a great device that helps shape a connection with the viewer and create an organic insight into his thoughts and feelings, whilst also explaining his friendships and family situation from the get-go.

With the release of the Oscar Nominee Call Me By Your Name in 2017, it feels as though film institutions are becoming more conscious of the need to embrace LGBTQIA+ characters and be inclusive and progressive in our current socio-political environment. These films thus seem to be gaining more recognition and commercial success, while also normalising the LGBTQIA+ experience and creating relevant and much needed films for people in Simon’s situation.

While I did enjoy the film and what it accomplishes in a social context, there are a few things plot wise that feel forced. The conflict with his friends is an example of this, as it feels irrational and out of character for his friends, who throughout the film have been established as very understanding, reasonable and mature. While there is a motive behind the clash, it feels unnecessary and devalues those characters for me, as they are presented as unconcerned as to Simon’s wellbeing during a difficult period in his life.

Another element of the film that did not work for me, was the fact that Simon’s life becomes a spectacle. Without giving away specifics, there is a scene towards the end of the film in which I feel as though Simon’s life is under scrutiny and his sense of privacy is being disregarded. Although his becoming a spectacle is meant to show that he is supported by the community, it feels to me as though this scene would have benefitted from granting him privacy and not feeling the pressure of having something to prove.

Regardless of my gripes with Love, Simon, it is a charming coming of age film that is a pleasure to watch, with a great cast. It is great to see films that are becoming more representative and are taking on perspectives that are less common to see in mainstream productions.

 

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