Continuing the Glasgow Film Festival coverage here on the site is my review of director Greg Berlanti’s latest offering, this time as he heads into teen territory for the gay, young-adult, romcom Love, Simon. Here's my review.
CATCH UP ON THE REST OF OUR GFF COVERAGE HERE.
Our eyes into this story are 17-year-old Simon (Nick Robinson); he has a happy life – loving friends and family all around him. However, he keeps one secret from them: he’s gay. When an anonymous student from his school comes out online, the pair begin conversing through emails – with Simon adopting the identity of Jacques to chat to the person he knows only as Blue – and soon, Simon finds himself falling in love with his mysterious new friend. However, when their emails leak online, Simon finds himself having to come to terms with his secret being known by the world.
Honestly, I had no anticipation for Love, Simon whatsoever; most YA romances of this nature tend to pander to their audiences and are often too idealistic and riddled with contrivances – but, also, the trailers for this just did not seem appealing at all. Now, whilst Love, Simon does occasionally hit those familiar genre beats (it occasionally has that trademark mushy dialogue and is complete with the predictable, overly-sentimental finale), it’s far from the train wreck I expected it to be. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that Love, Simon is a great film. This is an affecting, charming and heart-breaking film with a beautiful message at its heart. And it’s largely as great as it is thanks its superbly realised plethora of characters.
This film eschews the idealistic protagonist stuff for a realistic, flawed teenager at its core in Robinson’s Simon. Yes, he starts off striving in a padded net of safety but it quickly dissolves to reveal a realistic world surrounding this boy - himself turning out to be quite the flawed, realistic youngster. One we can see ourselves within. One we can empathise with, relate to and, importantly, root for. We care for Simon and his friends and their relationships and friendships and their triumphs and heart-aches and it makes the story even more emotionally richer and poignant as a result of how developed they all are. Robinson’s performance, too, is terrific; the actor has the tough task of bringing enough likability and sincerity to the role whilst keeping it grounded and he gets the balance just right – it’s a very charming, yet deeply moving performance. There’s great support from 13 Reasons Why breakout Katherine Langford too, as well as Alexandra Shipp, Keiynan Lonsdale and even Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Graner as Simon’s scene-stealing parents. And there is such palpable chemistry between this cast too, making the relations so much more believable and investing to watch.
Love, Simon is far from perfect, however: the humour is a bit hit-and-miss and the film does feel a little too cheesy and predictable for its own good at times. But that's really about it. This is genuinely a great film! There’s warmth to this story and warmth in its characters and struggles. Because of how superbly realised the characters are, and how much we find ourselves emotionally invested in their stories, it keeps Love, Simon on its toes and keeps it a touching, moving watch throughout. But what makes this film stand out from the other good teen romcoms, the likes of Me, Earl and the Dying Girl or even The Edge of Seventeen, is that this is a love story told through gay characters which, for many, means representation and accessibility in a major film of this calibre. So not only is this an important film but, thankfully, it’s also a film that is ever-so delightful and brilliant. It’s hard not to love Love, Simon.
LOVE, SIMON OPENS IN THE U.K ON APRIL 6TH, 2018.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.