Slight Spoilers for those who haven’t read the book ahead…
Based on Becky Albertelli’s best-selling novel “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” and directed by openly gay director Greg Berlanti, “Love, Simon” is a fun, heartfelt teenage romantic comedy/coming of age story that will give a generation of teens (and those of us adults who’ve been where the lead character is) the chance to truly feel seen on the big screen.
Simon Spier, played by the fantastic Nick Robinson, is just an average teen, but with one huge ass secret: he’s gay. All too often LGBT+ stories are filled with heartache and unhappy endings. “Love, Simon” will make you cry but not because someone died instead because you feel what Simon is feeling as he struggles with his own coming out story. That’s in part because of Robinson who plays the character with honesty and heart.
Unlike way too many teen movies the other characters don’t feel unrealistic either, they actually feel like teenagers we all were, are or knew. Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Bram, in particular is a standout amongst the supporting cast. It’s of great importance to me that he becomes a star. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel should play every white kids parents in movies moving forward. And Natasha Rothwell and Tony Hale steal the show with the comedic teacher moments and later they’re unwavering (though in the Vice Principal’s case slightly misguided) support of their students.
But of course the most realistic part is the portrayal of a young queer kid coming out. No, we don’t all get lucky with supportive friends and family like Simon does and thankfully most don’t end up outed by the town idiot, but you can still understand who Simon is because at some point, or maybe still, we’ve been where he’s at. Figuring it out, ready but also not.
The story holds you with heart and realism, but also does some of those fantastic unrealistic things every great high school movie does. There are two fun musical numbers, an outlandish school carnival that no school would ever actually have the money to put on and a romance you can root for. Except it’s all better and more refreshing than it’s ever been because it’s about a gay teen, his gay-Jewish-black love interest and his diverse, fun group of friends.
The book plays as a solid template to the movie, not an exact interpretation, but one that works brilliantly all the same. Bram and Simon spend more time together in real life before finding out who’s on the other side of the keyboard, a welcome change since that remained to be a bother in the book. And the use of Simon’s imagination as to who Blue may be is shown onscreen interestingly through different actor’s as he theorizes who it might be. Directorially overall it shows that Berlanti is more than just that guy who runs all the DC superhero shows on the CW.
An excellent cast, beautiful story, fun and realism aren’t the only things that make this movie great. The soundtrack and score do as well. The chosen songs fit well with Simon’s very modern to very old school music tastes and the score feels like an awesome 80’s teen movie with a modern twist, setting a perfect tone and romantic AF vibe throughout the film.
Basically Hollywood needs to make more LGBT+ movies like this: happy, romantic and fun films with heart and soul, we’re not all doom and gloom Oscar bait.
And if you see this and don’t find yourself cheering as Blue sits in the Ferris wheel next to Simon at the end you might not have a soul (and you should totally see this).