I was well aware that Love, Simon was a bit of a phenomenon, but the truth is… I rarely like LGBTQ+ movies. Unless they’re as beautiful as Portrait of a Lady on Fire or as charming as Happiest Season, I always find myself rolling my eyes at gay movies. Mostly because they’re usually penned by straight writers. (Note that the writers/directors of the movies I just mentioned are both out lesbians…)
Thankfully, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (the novel on which this was based) was at least written by a bisexual woman, so the source material itself lends a hand to the movie. In the film adaptation, our hero is Simon Spier: a closeted, gay 17-year old who is yet to come out to a single member of his family or any of his friends. When he begins to speak to an anonymous stranger online who goes to his school, he begins to wonder what it would be like to be in a relationship with several of his male classmates.
My first thought? Wow. They really said “average high school rom-com, but make it gay.”
Seriously though, as far as teen movies go, Love, Simon is head and shoulders above the majority. Though it gets off to a steady start, the script is snappy, focused and incredibly sweet. (Both of the writers behind it also write ABC’s This Is Us, a.k.a. one of my favourite shows on TV right now.) Anyone who’s been through this sort of thing will feel some sort of connection to the story, and even if you’re not LGBTQ+, there’s a bunch of teen awkwardness that everyone in the Western world can relate to.
What really stood out to me was that there was no effort to stereotype gay men by making Simon “camp” or “flamboyant”. It’s important to see people with those traits in film of course, but usually, that’s all we see. This was a nice change and it was handled remarkably well by Nick Robinson as Simon. On the supporting cast side of things, Alexandra Shipp stood out above the other teens, but Tony Hale unsurprisingly stole the show with his comedic chops. I mean, he’s barely in this movie and still he managed to be one of the most memorable things about it. Love the guy.
Could this be the best teen movie soundtrack of the past decade? There are AT LEAST ten tracks here that I’d listen to in every day life and it’s possibly the most perfect mix of old school and modern music I’ve seen in a movie of this type. It’s very well put together indeed, so if you’re in the mood for The 1975, The Kinks, Panic! at the Disco, Violent Femmes, Whitney Houston, Jackson 5, Lady Gaga and the Cabaret soundtrack within the space of two hours, this is your film.
Some of the plot was a little overstretched and the film overall didn’t need to be as long as it was, but it was engaging and entertaining for the most part, although the outing plot line was mildly triggering. And whilst I’m here, I have to give a shout out to Natasha Rothwell, whose character wasn’t even all that necessary but she was such a scene stealer here that I couldn’t not mention her.
On the whole, Love, Simon is a neatly made movie, full of angst and fire, yet soft to the touch. Recommended.
Love, Simon is available to rent on the Sky Store and the Google Play Store for £3.49 in the UK.
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