Director: Greg Berlanti
Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg, Miles Heizer, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Tony Hale
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: R21 (Homosexual Theme)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Opening Day: 3 May 2018
Synopsis: Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier it's a little more complicated: he's yet to tell his family or friends he's gay and he doesn't actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he's fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing. Directed by Greg Berlanti (Dawson's Creek, Brothers & Sisters), written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), and based on Becky Albertalli's acclaimed novel, LOVE, SIMON is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about the thrilling ride of finding yourself and falling in love.
It is unfortunate that a beautiful film like Love Simon, targeted for youth, is given a harsh and unforgiving rating by the censorship board in Singapore due to its central theme of homosexuality. Then again, what’s new?
Love Simon is a rather refreshing entry to gay films. Often, I can’t help but notice gay films in general consist of nudity, sex and sometimes, drugs. The media frequently portrays homosexuality as promiscuous and to a certain extent, especially in conservative societies, even dangerous. However, Love Simon shifts to focus on love instead. We don’t see any teenage sex, we don’t see drugs, we don’t see any nudity, only a brief on-screen kiss between two characters of the same sex – a kiss that simply means love, like in any other romantic comedies we indulge in.
Essentially, Love Simon shows you the struggle of a boy as he comes to terms with his own sexuality, peppered with light-hearted comical moments between the many teen characters. The film makes you reminisce the good old days in school, when we were wild, crazy and nonsensical. We see a kind of innocence in the teens as the film plays out – a kind of innocence that you only see in students, when apart from school, their lives revolve around simply having fun, new adventures and puppy love.
Simon, the titular character, is a high school student who forms an anonymous online romance with a classmate, but neither he nor his pen pal are openly gay. It is a tale of an assuming hero who overcomes the challenges of coming out. The struggles that he encounters feel so real, so grounded. Please pardon me for some spoilers ahead, but one of my favourite moments was when Simon came out to Leah, his best friend. Leah asks Simon why isn’t she, but Abby (whom Simon knows not long ago), the first person he came out to. Simon’s response? In one line he answers very simply, “I have known Abby only for six months, but I have known you for thirteen years.” This is a very powerful line, and captures – very fittingly – the challenges a closeted gay person might feel.
There’s much about this movie. Prima facie, it may be seen as a movie about LGBT, but probing deeper, this deceptively straightforward and simple film is also about how fear and shame can have the potential to rot the soul, where we – the audience – almost literally experience the shame that Simon experiences when his sexuality was publicly exposed. The filmmakers have crafted the first two acts well enough for us to be emotionally invested with Simon, and when Simon was teased in the school’s canteen for being gay, we could feel his sense of embarrassment but anger at the same time. For me, I admire films that have completely relatable characters because it really takes an experienced director to do so, and this movie is surely one that was treated with depth and subtlety. (That being said, I can’t help but notice some of the movie’s plot points of love and deceit are pretty similar to what I have read from some of Shakespeare’s works. There’s a bit of Twelfth Night and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It’ll be rather cool if this movie can be read as a LGBT spinoff for those classic plays.)
The success of the film owes a lot to Nick Robinson’s delicate portrayal of Simon, as we see Simon grow from being a mere high school boy to a real man, a good elder brother and son, and a dear friend to treasure. His character is multi-faceted – which also means, you don’t have to be gay to appreciate the film (in case you are wondering). The emotions he feel are just so human, and your heart goes all out to him at the end of the film when he finally finds his true love – Blue.
Love Simon is truly a breath of fresh air and I wish there could be more of these movies can be made. It has definitely been a memorable and meaningful experience watching this movie.
(Inherently a crowd-pleaser and feel-good movie made sincerely, that carries a powerful and warm message of love and acceptance)
Review by Jason Lee