There’s a lot of good reviews about this film and nothing bad that I’ve seen. I don’t know that I can add anything of weight to the discussion, but I did feel that it was iconic and wonderful and probably couldn’t have been made until quite recently.
I’m old enough to remember the buzz the came out for “My Beautiful Laundrette”, but it and so many other films of that time dealt with the current political milieu (Thatcherism in this case), and the sexuality was always dealt with in a more adult context and with reference to the dangers of unconventional life choices; the girls in “Heavenly Creatures” are murders, “Boys Don’t Cry” tells the story of a transgender kid who was murdered, “BrokeBack Mountain” deals with adult men coming to terms with how their hidden sexuality could destroy lives and families.
On the other hand, “Love, Simon” (drat that pesky comma) deals with a high school boy in a modern school in which there is already a out gay kid – who is generally accepted without question although he does get harassed by a couple of idiots. However, as Simon muses, why is it that gay kids have to “come out”? There is a very cute fantasy sequence in which a bunch of heterosexual kids have to come out to their parents as straight, and it’s a hoot.
A while back I read a great article by Molly Ringwald, in which she reassesses her movies with John Hughes in light of the #metoo movement. She notes that “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink” etc. were seminal in that they gave a personal voice to teenagers in a medium where they had basically been ignored (regardless of Hughes’ character flaws). There was an immediacy and sense of reality to the characters portrayed in these films that I feel “Love, Simon” also has. There is no sense that Simon is a person who doesn’t deserve or won’t end up with a the love story that every straight kid expects and we connect with him via recognition of what are common teenage experiences we all went through; love is love and all teenagers are trying to find those connections to friends and lovers.
There is some level of bigotry and sense of being an outsider that he feels, but that is something also attributed to other characters in the film as well, as a general coming of age phenomena and not some overall societal ostracism of “teh gayz” that Simon is experiencing. As he says, he has a wonderfully accepting and loving family and it’s just a matter of him coming to the time and place where he’s comfortable revealing his secret.
I find all the characters are wonderfully well written, and the story is handled quite well. Apart from the two blow-in idiots, Simon and his friends are complex mix of strengths and weaknesses and even the main “villain” is treated with sympathy – as a kid who could be a decent person if he stopped trying so hard for acceptance and gained a bit of maturity. The principal, played by Tony Hale, is a bit of an absurd caricature at times but written and played with love. Similarly, the theatre teacher is a bit of cliche, but the film is about the children, so the adults can be less developed apart from Simon’s parents who are both well developed and sensitively acted by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel.
The film is a mix of comedy and drama/romance and takes its style from so many other teen romance comedies. There are some quite well done fantasy sequences in which Simon wonders who the mysterious “Blue” he exchanges emails with could be, and a ludicrously delicious scene in which he envisages his coming out when he goes to college. There’s some poignant moments as Simon has to deal with decisions to protect his secret by making choices that alienate friends, and cringeworthy scenes where we can all recollect the extent to which we too made teenage fools of ourselves in the name of that first romance.
I really, really loved this film and recommend it to anyone that loves a good teen romance.