Love, Simon (2018)
Love, Simon is the story of Simon Spier and his struggle, to be honest with himself and to come to terms with his sexuality. As a closeted gay high school student, Simon is afraid of his secret getting out. His fear stems from uncertainty in how his life could change, and how his family and friends would treat him, so Simon figures it would be better to keep pretending and let those around him continue to think what they always have.
However, Simon is also in contact with somebody who goes to his school. This somebody, who goes by the name Blue, is also gay and chooses not to reveal his identity. Simon, too, remains anonymous. Through email, they share their life stories, deepest thoughts, passions, and fears, and they quickly come to rely on each other. But how long can this continue for, and to what end?
Nick Robinson does an excellent job of capturing Simon’s range of emotions and his inner turmoil. While it is especially relevant for queer audience members, as they are able to best understand the film and identify with its lead character, this is a coming of age story for every family, teen, and adult, no matter how they identify. Robinson effectively portrays a young man who is often beside himself and seemingly on a roller coaster of emotions—just as many gay teens are—and drives home the importance of self-discovery and acceptance.
The story is earnest, emotional, and inquisitive. It tackles the teen angst of coming to terms with one’s sexuality, and their place in the world. Love, Simon is an essential film, as it affords much-needed mainstream queer representation in cinema. This is a story told from the heart, and the supporting cast also deserves praise in helping to tell it. They all play a role in telling Simon’s story. Simon’s parents, portrayed by Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner, add humor and love to the scenes they appear in.
Worth mentioning is comedian Natasha Rothwell, who plays the drama teacher, Ms. Albright, in the film. She brings hilarity to the film, through well-written lines and comedic delivery. In my screening of Love, Simon, it was Rothwell that brought on the most laughter from the audience. She stood out and, without her, this would have been a very different viewing experience.
This adaptation is markedly different from Becky Albertalli’s novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Some of the characters, events, and nuances were changed, but the overall tone and message were not lost. Love, Simon does the book justice while still doing its own thing.
Love, Simon never comes across as forced, and it certainly never feels like it was made just for the sake of being made. This romantic comedy is just like any other, but instead of the guy falling for the girl, he falls for another guy. It is clear that Greg Berlanti’s experience, talent, and guidance paid off, as he and his team have created a memorable and heartwarming film that will be enjoyed for years to come.
Love, Simon is now in theaters nationwide.
This review originally appeared on Salt Lake Film Review