Film Review: Love, Simon

Love, Simon
Dir: Greg Berlanti
Written by: Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker

5*

This film is without a doubt, the coming-out story for 2018.  NFT1 at The BFI was absolutely packed out for this screening on a Monday afternoon.  Knowing little about Love, Simon beforehand, I hoped that the full auditorium was a sign of good things to come, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The LGBT+ kids of my generation missed out on seeing themselves on screen, or if they did it was usually as a stereotype or trope and certainly never as a protagonist. We are now at the point where this generation of teenagers finally have access to a range of LGBT+ characters and narratives on stage and screen, and I’m thrilled that movies like Love, Simon will be available to them.  It hits all the markers of American teen movies that my generation grew up with, but is highly contemporary and relevant for now, with a soft nod to the landscape of American politics in 2018.

Seventeen year old Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) has a normal and relatively happy life, he gets on with his family, does well at school and has the best friends someone could ask for, however he’s hiding a huge secret from everyone – he’s gay. And when someone threatens to leak his secret to the entire school he goes to all and any lengths to stop that from happening. The refreshing thing about this movie is that the issues faced by Simon are not the ones usually conflated with coming-out stories.  I despise coming-out stories in which we see a character face homophobic abuse or familial rejection or some other horrible situation for a relentless hour or two, or ones where the coming-out really is the crux of the narrative and it remains as flimsy as that.  Love, Simon is none of that – it’s a far deeper exploration, more robust and 3D than previous coming-out narratives I’ve encountered, and remained engaging throughout.

It’s a fun movie, with hugely likeable characters; at which point I give a huge shout out to Jennifer Garner – the feminist, kind-hearted and warm mum.  Another mention must go to Natasha Rothwell, who had me in stitches more than a couple of times as the over-dramatic and highly strung drama teacher, Ms Albright. The characters all had depth to them, which meant the ‘baddie’ wasn’t just bad, the parents weren’t perfect, but were trying and the teachers were both typical teachers and human at the same time.  I felt that all of the characters developed throughout, in a way that was satisfying to watch.

It was a movie that kept me guessing, threw me off course, made me laugh, cry and cheer. I wish I could have seen this movie as a teenager, but how however old you are now and whatever your sexual orientation – go and see this, it’s just lovely.

Love, Simon is showing in mainstream cinemas across London and the UK from early April.

© Amie Taylor 2018

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