The Winonan

Film in review: “Love, Simon”

Blake Gasner, Film Reporter

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The coming-of-age romantic comedy film directed by Greg Berlanti, “Love Simon,” is about an ordinary high school senior, Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), who is not much different than your average protagonist of a coming-of-an-age flick. He has a supportive family, close friends and a plethora of awkward teenage experiences to boot, but, on top of all of this, he has one BIG secret: he’s gay. The weight of this secret leaves a heavy burden on his spirit until an anonymous blog post by another gay student at his school catches his attention. Simon begins anonymously corresponding with this student, building a connection with him in the process, but everything changes when some of Simon’s secrets are spilled without his consent, leaving a trail of backlash.

“Love, Simon” is an extremely sweet and lighthearted film that not only excels as a powerful tale about a gay male, but also as a story about teenagers and love in general. This is one of the most exciting aspects of the film. It has wildly relatable moments for anyone who has gone through high school, matching the upper echelons of high school classics like “The Breakfast Club,” “Clueless” and “Mean Girls.” Charming charisma pours out of the seams in every scene.

This is likely a result of a wonderful cast, featuring an excellent Robinson in the lead. In Simon Spier, we get a homosexual character who is not gay for the sole purpose of telling the story of a gay man. He is instead a kid in high school who just so happens to be gay as well. We are not made to feel sympathy for this character, we are instead made to relate to him. The rest of the actors all do great work crafting fun yet realistic characters, but Robinson’s performance as a normal kid agonizing over how and when he should reveal his biggest secret to his loved ones is emotionally powerful.

The script, by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, takes the depth of “Love, Simon,” mixes it with wholesome humor and conducts a balancing act of both sentiment and laughter across a thin tight rope that nearly completely succeeds throughout the entirety of the film. This approach makes “Love, Simon” a far more accessible and fun film for mainstream audiences than other films with gay protagonists like the emotionally raw “Brokeback Mountain,” “Moonlight” and “Call Me by Your Name.”  These are all powerful showcases of filmmaking, but “Love, Simon” channels its inner teenager and injects its film with satisfying laughs making this one of the most charismatic films of the past year.

Like other teen classics of the past, “Love, Simon” rejects the stereotypical tropes of average films about high schools and opts for a more honest picture of adolescence. In the film, there are jocks, but instead of them all being ego driven jerks, several of them are presented as nice people and even close friends of Simon. This gives the film a fresh feeling that is further amplified by its effective usage of mystery, a plot device that is not often evident in coming-of-age films. The unknown identity of Simon’s online acquaintance packs a powerful force that drives much of the plot forward as we watch him hypothesize which of his fellow students it could be. This mystery plays with our expectations and ultimately is resolved in extremely satisfying fashion. I’m talkin’ exuberant audience applause and cheering during the film’s finale. A filmmaker’s ability to draw an audience in so personally that they physically react to the events on screen is the ultimate sign of a masterful work and “Love, Simon” fits into that category snuggly.

If in the mood for a heartfelt, honest and relatable portrayal of adolescence from a fresh and charming perspective then “Love, Simon” is the film for you! 5/5

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