TL;DR – A great story about love and everything that it takes to get there.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There was no post-credit scene
Your last year in high school is difficult at the best of times, but when you have a secret that could rip your life apart, it adds to it a bit. In Love, Simon, that secret is that the titular Simon (Nick Robinson) is gay, and he hasn’t told anyone yet. So today we are going to look at a story that is part coming of age, part love story, and party mystery novel.
So to set the scene, Simon lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, and has a loving mother (Jennifer Garner) and father (Josh Duhamel) who were high school sweethearts, and a sister (Talitha Bateman) that loves to cook. Every morning on the way to school he picks up his other friends Leah (Katherine Langford), Abby (Alexandra Shipp), and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr), in a morning ritual that they do every day. Everything is great bar the fact that Simon hasn’t told anyone that he is gay, assuming he’ll move away to college and just make it part of his life then. Then one day another student in the school posted a comment on the local school site about what it is like being gay and no one knows using the alias ‘Blue’ (I’m not telling you). Seeing an obvious connection, Simon replied back using his own alias ‘Jacques’, and soon the two are becoming fast friends even though they don’t know who each other is in real life. All of this is going well until that little [Redacted] Martin (Logan Miller) finds the emails and everything changes.
The first thing that really works about Love, Simon is the performances of all the actors. Everybody is giving there all, and that elevates the movie from being just another teen high school film. The lead Nick Robinson is really relatable and you can’t help but feel for his struggle as his world falls down around him, but also that flutter of excitement he gets when a new email comes in. I thought he was good in Jurassic World (see review), but here he showed that he is an actor with quite a range and a big future ahead of him. It is seriously amazing just how many fantastic performances that are going on in this little film with Jennifer Garner showing why she is amazing in just about any role you give her, and she has a wonderful rapport with Josh Duhamel. This is a film where even the small supporting roles are amazing, like the vice-principle Mr Worth (Tony Hale) and the drama teacher Ms Albright (Natasha Rothwell) who help bring some much-needed levity to the proceeding.
When it comes to the story I think they have done a great job creating likable protagonists that you want to succeed. As well as this, none of it feels out of place in the world today, I mean bar teens using Gmail to chat anonymously rather than the thousands of apps that do that for you. None of the conflicts in the film feels forced which is something that can be uncommon for the genre so that was great to see. I will say that the story did feel just that little bit safe overall, with regards to its central conflict and the resolution, but the constant ‘who is Blue?’ narrative helps pull that along. From a production side of things, everything worked really well, with some great framing, including overhead upsidedown shots which were not needed but added to the scenes. As well as this, I did like the 80’s style synth music soundtrack.
One thing I couldn’t help but do is compare Love, Simon with Call Me By Your Name (see review) that came out earlier this year, and to do that there will be [SPOILERS] for both films incoming. This is not just because they are both stories constructed around same-sex couples, but also because they chart the trials and tribulations of young love. In both films, well peach aside, we see that passionate drive with young love, in how Simon is always checking his emails or Elio in the 80s riding his bike all across Italy. What is interesting when we look at the ending, they could not be more separate, where we get a happy ending in Love Simon, Call Me By Your Name gets anything but. I mentioned that Love Simon did feel safe, and part of that is due to its almost cookie cutter ending. However, by playing it safe paradoxically Love, Simon is actually doing something quite different. Within Film and TV there is a frustrating trend often referred to as ‘Bury Your Gays’ in that non-straight characters never get the happy ending usually because one ends up dead. No yes, some of these happen for clearly strong narrative reasons like Star Trek Discovery, or Orphan Black, but more often than not it is at best used as a cheap way to get sympathy before moving into the third act. In Call Me By Your Name, there is no happy ending but it fits within the context of the film. In Love Simon, you go get the cheesy ending when he finds out who Blue is (no I am still not going to spoil that even here), but as a genre, it is actually charting new ground.
In the end, do we recommend Love, Simon? Look at the description you probably know whether this is a film for you or not. If you love romance films with a side of mystery, then this is a film for you, if you want something a bit more action orientated than you probably won’t get that here.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Love Simon
Directed by – Greg Berlanti
Screenplay by – Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger
Based on – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Music by – Rob Simonsen
Cinematography by – John Guleserian
Edited by – Harry Jierjian
Starring – Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Talitha Bateman, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Tony Hale & Natasha Rothwell
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: O; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13