Review: Love, Simon

Love, Simon
8 10

PLOT: A closeted, well-liked High School senior (Nick Robinson) is blackmailed by another student, while simultaneously falling in love with a similarly closeted pen pal, whose identity he doesn’t know.

REVIEW: LOVE, SIMON is an important transitional film for the LTGBQ genre, in that it’s the first mainstream gay teen romance to be released by a major studio. Sure, gay teen characters have existed as far back as Alan Parker’s FAME, but they were never the leads, rather one of the straight protagonist’s best friends. In this regard, TV has been ahead of the curve, but no longer. Embracing a mainstream aesthetic that should appeal to the teen base that maybe found CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is a little too arty (although – of course – they shouldn’t and need to go see it NOW), LOVE, SIMON seems primed for crossover success, with Fox optimistically hosting dozens of word-of-mouth screenings over the last few weeks, plus a well-attended sneak preview last Saturday.

Sure enough, director Greg Berlanti’s LOVE, SIMON is a top-shelf teen flick, anchored by likable teens and a winning performance from star Nick Robinson. Eschewing any sense of tragedy, here Simon’s coming-out is viewed less as a hurdle due to any fear he has of being ostracized, but rather the fact that he himself is just getting used to it being part of his identity, so why should he have to share it with anyone before he’s good and ready?

Simon himself admits early on that he can’t see his loving, supporting parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) having any problems with it, nor his close-knit group of friends, including nice-guy jock Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), new girl Abby (Alexandra Shipp) or his long-time BFF Leah (Katherine Langford) who he doesn’t notice has a crush on him. Yet, he’s only now just starting to get around to the idea of dating another guy, and he knows that if he’s outed it’ll scare off his pen pal, Blue, who goes to his school but won’t reveal himself.

Enter the school’s toxic Martin (Logan Miller), an awkward theater nerd who pines after Abby, and forces Simon to help him make her like him, lest he reveals the truth. Most of the conflict of the first two-thirds comes from Simon, against his better nature, helping Martin gaslight Abby into liking him, ignoring that she’s better off with his pal Nick. He also tries to figure out who Blue might be, and the movie presents several appealing candidates, with his ultimate identity being a solid surprise.

Through it all, LOVE, SIMON never gets too heavy, opting for a light, John Hughes tone, with bright colors, a super hip soundtrack (with “Fun” and “Bleachers” Jack Antonoff the music supervisor) and a fast pace. You know right off the bat everything will be fine, an important step forward as in older high school flicks, the “coming out” was always presented as rather severe. Here, it’s a thing we know will go fine, with the threat being more to Simon’s relationship than anything else, making it feel like a legitimately mainstream teen romance – albeit a gay-themed one.

Giving the amazing reaction from the audience I saw this with, I have no doubt LOVE, SIMON is a surefire sleeper hit that should pave the way for more mainstream LGTBQ movies. Certainly LOVE, SIMON has major crossover appeal, and speaks to anyone who remembers what it was like being in high school or simply enjoys the genre. It's well-worth checking out, and a very pleasant flick.

Source: JoBlo.com



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