Director: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Logan Miller, Josh Duhamel, and Jennifer Garner
Teenage romantic comedies are formulaic; two young people in high school find themselves thrust into some kind of situation that ends with the two smooching amidst swelling pop music, it’s been done many times in many ways. What makes Greg Berlanti’s, the mind behind the recent DC Comics explosion on television, “Love, Simon” different is something that seems so obviously aware that it might be surprising that it hasn’t happened yet. The titular lead Simon, played by Nick Robinson, is a well-liked high school senior who leads a typical, normal life except for the fact that he is gay.
Simon has a group of great friends, one of which is his best friend Leah (Katherine Langford) who he has known nearly his entire life. Simon has great parents (Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner) who are still together in a loving relationship, they even sit around the television to watch movies together. Simon lives a life some might only expect to see in the movies, but Simon has a secret that he hasn’t told anyone.
Berlanti tackles “Love, Simon” with a nice blend of humor and a fair amount of heart. Simon is a likable main character but he is far from perfect, he’s a teenage student trying to traverse the already tumultuous terrain of the high school hallways while trying to determine how, when, and if he will reveal his true feelings to those around him. This creates a struggle as high school bullying and a gossip website place Simon in a difficult situation where his choices hurt and manipulate those close to him. Still, even when Simon isn’t making the best decisions it’s hard to blame the character for his selfishness.
Berlanti does a great job of composing the characters within the film, never over emphasizing the narrative themes and keeping everything simplistic while always remaining fun. In most stories that have gay protagonists things don’t always have the best outcomes; these characters don’t always have such good lives, and in the end of these tales it often feels like life is still going to be a struggle compared to the struggles of people who aren’t in gay relationships. Film manipulates expectations, and in the case of gay cinema the results are often disheartening and sometimes tragic for the characters wanting to express how they feel to people they love. The fact that Berlanti takes the all too common formula of a teenage romantic comedy and places a gay male character in the lead role without succumbing to the manipulations of hatred that force people into places of fear and shame for their choice of relationship is refreshing and necessary in the world we live in today.
“Love, Simon” is a heartfelt, familiar tale of first love. Greg Berlanti does a exceptional job of creating engaging characters and placing them in a situation that doesn’t exploit the topic of sexuality or oversimplify the aspect of youth. “Love, Simon” is a enjoyable film that demonstrates that stories and experiences, though they may seem different from different populations, are the same when stripped down to its most basic emotion.
4.00 out of 5.00