Mean Girls. Clueless. 10 Things I Hate About You. The teen comedy pantheon already sets a very high bar, and not every film reaches it. Good news, then, because Love, Simon is a big-hearted, well-rounded classic in the making.
With high-schooler Simon (Nick Robinson) falling for an anonymous classmate via email, the clearest thing about Love, Simon is how mainstream it feels. You can count the story beats off as you go. There’s the ‘Call To Adventure’, the ‘Complications’, the ‘Higher Stakes’. There are school dances and football games and house parties with red plastic cups. Woven into the newer narrative of coming out, these copious tropes make it feel like something you’ve seen before; and it works.
Where that might kill off a lesser movie, here it reminds us that sometimes the most progressive narrative is one where sexuality feels incidental. Coming out is a vital aspect of Simon’s character and of the plot, but it’s not all Simon is, and it’s not all this movie is either. Simon’s sexuality isn’t what makes Love, Simon engaging; it’s how he and others around him handle it, whether that’s ‘well’ or ‘really badly’, and how, at its heart, this is a sweet and sincere teen romance that gives you all the same feelings as 10 Things I Hate About You. By the end you’ll be grinning so widely your face will hurt.
Helmed by a beautiful performance from Nick Robinson, Simon’s story is a welcome step towards all-encompassing cinema. It’s not the whole journey, because Simon carries other types of privilege, but that’s okay; one film can’t represent everybody.
Instead, it’s opened the door to all of the stories that we haven’t seen before; and yet Love, Simon can also be enjoyed simply for what it is – itself.
CAST: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Logan Miller, Keiynan Lonsdale, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner
DIRECTOR: Greg Berlanti
WRITERS: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger
SYNOPSIS: 17-year-old Simon Spier hasn’t told anyone that he’s gay. The only person who knows is “Blue”, a high-school classmate who has come out anonymously, and who Simon has been secretly emailing—and falling in love with.