Love, Simon is the quintessential teen movie- it features a good-looking, sweet yet dorky lead, a catchy soundtrack, classic ‘80s vibes and a great love story, but it has one twist: it’s also the first big teen movie with a gay lead.
Love, Simon follows high school senior Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) as he navigates high school from the closet. After finding out about another closeted gay kid at his school, under the pseudonym Jacques, Simon begins to email the other boy, all while trying to figure out his true identity. “Greg Berlanti’s groundbreaking gay romcom is an exuberant gift, a John Hughes movie for audiences who just got woke and the first mainstream studio release to put a closeted teen front and center,” Rolling Stones’ Peter Travers said.
A movie with a gay lead in a healthy relationship for teens is monumental in the LGBTQ+ community. In a world that seems to be against them, having an example of a happy gay teenager, even in fiction, is a big deal to gay teens struggling with the same fears and anxiety that Simon deals with. “Love, Simon is not something we’ve seen before, the story’s really good and you fall in love with the characters,” sophomore Claire Throckmorton said.
Love, Simon is directed by Greg Berlanti, an openly gay man, and filming encouraged a member of its own cast, Keiynan Lonsdale, to come out as bisexual. After coming out, Simon’s teachers, family and friends are all supportive. His little sister, Nora (Talitha Bateman) chastises their dad (Josh Duhamel) for his inappropriate comments, his teacher brings two homophobic students to the principal where they are made to apologize, and his vice-principal, Mr. Worth (Arrested Development’s Tony Hale) wears a rainbow flag lapel pin. Simon and his parents each have heart-wrenching scenes, Garner delivers a performance that brought me to tears, telling Simon that he deserves everything he wants, and Simon’s dad apologizes for his previous insensitive comments and makes a good-natured, yet awkward, attempt to relate and support his son. “Abundantly heartfelt and consistently funny, Love, Simon has a unique place in the canon of LGBTQ cinema, in part for how sweetly ordinary this coming-out story plays out. Oh, and the fact that it’s a slick, big studio release,” Columbus Alive´s Brad Keefe said.
One of the most important things in a good movie, at least from my point of view, is the soundtrack. Love, Simon’s soundtrack is superb: It features four tracks by the Bleachers including Wild Heart, which has been stuck in my head for two weeks now, and the aptly named Keeping A Secret, as well as songs by Troye Sivan, Khalid & Normani, The 1975, and Haerts. Older favorites Someday at Christmas by Jackson 5 and The Oogum Boogum Song by Brenton Woods are also featured. By far the best use of soundtrack in the movie, as well as one of the best parts of the movie, is Simon’s daydream about being openly gay in college in which he and rainbow-clad classmates dance to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody. “The soundtrack is so good. It makes me happy,” sophomore Rebecca Hartman said.
Leaving Love, Simon, I had only two complaints. The first is fairly common, the teenagers are portrayed by 20-somethings, granted they’re young 20-somethings, but nonetheless, they aren’t teenagers. During a flashback scene they actually had to add pimples to Nick Robinson in an effort to make him seem younger. The second complaint stems from the fact that I read the book, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, that Love, Simon is based on. Simon’s best friend Leah in the book is a quirky, anime-loving, fanfiction-writing nerd who plays drums. In the movie, she’s simply there. She doesn’t really get a life or personality of her own.
Overall, Love, Simon was well-written, it was funny, heartwarming and adorably awkward all at the right times. Since it’s a teen movie, I had my fears about clunky and unrelatable dialogue, but it does a good job of depicting teen life. Simon doesn’t have his life completely together, he feels awkward at parties, and he’s an ensemble member in the school play. There’s ingenious foreshadowing, but the movie will keep you guessing who Blue is until its final moments.