Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this modern John Hughes classic, “Love, Simon.” What a time to be alive to witness the first film ever to be released by a major studio to focus on a gay teenage romance. This film brings social tolerance to a whole new level.
Sitting at a 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (as of March 21), this movie is a masterpiece. It’s funny, has relatable characters, and a realistic setting — everything you want in a teen drama. There have been various book-to-film teen romance adaptations in recent years, including “Paper Towns” or “The Fault in our Stars,” but “Love, Simon” molds the genre into something entirely new.
We begin the movie with narration from high school senior Simon Spier. He’s a normal high school kid with a “huge-ass secret:” He’s gay. It makes sense that he wants to stay in the closet, especially since being gay is still stigmatized, even in 2018. Simon states he’s always been him and coming out as gay would make everyone see him differently. This aspect of his character is something everyone on this planet has gone through, and that’s acceptance of one’s self.
High school is a weird and strange place; everyone is just trying to get through without life effing everything up (I’m looking at you, hormones). What’s is so smart about the writing of Simon is that he’s written as such a relatable character. Personally, I love teen-driven films where I can imagine the lead being a student at my school and not being a narc. Let’s give a hand to Simon’s portrayer, Nick Robinson. The character is only as good as the actor portrays him, and Robinson definitely delivers. His acting never seems forced or bland. He’s having fun with the character. He really conveys Simon’s emotions throughout the movie. Also, kudos to Nick for agreeing to do the gay scenes. Nick Robinson is straight, and I can imagine how different it must’ve been to act gay for a film. Overall, 10/10 for the character of Simon.
Now, onto the supporting characters. All of Simon’s friends are great. Basically, his best friends are Leah (Katherine Langford), Abby (Alexandra Shipp), and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), who are all relatively young actors, all in their early to late 20s. You may know Langford from “13 Reasons Why,” Shipp from “X-Men: Apocalypse” and Lendeborg from “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” I really love the chemistry all of these actors have on screen. It makes you feel like you’re a part of their clique. This also helps the humor in the film because their performances are so charismatic.
We all know that a movie is only as good as its villain, and the antagonist in “Love, Simon” was incredible. Logan Miller plays Martin, who basically blackmails Simon into hooking him up with his friend Abby. This has consequences in the film, but you will just have to see the film to see what happens. Miller’s character is a geek/nerd (whichever you prefer), plain and simple. He wears ironic T-shirts and has a room plastered with old-timey horror film posters. You understand Martin’s motives, and you kind of feel bad for the guy at times. It’s never like “I’m going to do this because I’m a jerk, blah, blah, blah.” There’s always a reason. Martin is a good guy at heart, and Miller plays him as just that. I mean, come on, everyone’s dabbled in blackmail a little. No, just me? OK, moving on.
You didn’t think that I would forget to mention my guy Keiynan Lonsdale would you? A little background if you don’t know him: Lonsdale is an Australian 26-year-old who currently plays Wally West on TV producer (and “Love, Simon” director) Greg Berlanti’s “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” A little meta moment — let’s take a minute to recognize how awesome it is that a queer black guy plays one the biggest names in comic books. Anyway, back to the review. Lonsdale portrays Simon’s classmate Abraham “Bram” Greenfeld and brings his acting charisma from “The Flash” to “Love, Simon” perfectly. So well, the audience I was sitting with shrieked every time he was on screen.
Finally, we get to talk about the setting of the film. “Love, Simon” is set in a suburban high school in Atlanta. Can we acknowledge how meta this movie is? I won’t get too deep into the plot, but basically, Simon is very anxious about getting an email from a pen pal of sorts after he creates a new anonymous email account to communicate with him. So, his phone makes a ding, showing that Simon has just received a new message. Obviously, he rushes to the phone, because he is super nervous but also excited; however, when he picks it up it’s just a “Welcome to Gmail” email. This part of the movie is hilarious to me because it happens all the time. My phone is like the driest teenager’s phone ever. Whenever I get a notification it’ll always be from Team Snapchat or Instagram, so this moment in the film cracked me up.
Actually, there are various little moments in the film like this. I’ll just name them really quick:
- students who curse like real people,
- teachers who curse,
- hanging out at Waffle House,
- being super awkward around people that you like,
- a super cringy assistant principal who tries to connect with the kids,
- memes displayed correctly,
That’s just a short list of what I think is spot-on in the movie, but leave a comment below if there is another moment you feel is pretty meta.
This movie is actually based on a book called “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Atlanta writer Becky Albertalli. I think she deserves a shout out for writing the book, because without the book there wouldn’t be a movie. I haven’t read it yet, but all of the reviews I’ve seen for it are pretty good, so make sure to check that out as well.
“Love, Simon” is worth seeing, even if you aren’t gay, a teenager, or even into teen dramas, you’ll find something to like in this film. “Love, Simon” is playing now in theaters.
Photo above: Keiynan Lonsdale (foreground) and Nick Robinson (background) star in “Love, Simon.”