Comedy Drama

Film Review: 'Love, Simon' is a Coming-of-Age Story with a Delightful Twist

March 16, 2018Ferdosa Abdi

There have been plenty of films revolving around young people navigating the sometimes difficult nature of love. However, not so if your lead is a young gay man. Thankfully, there's Love, Simon.

This is perhaps the first mainstream movie to have a gay character at the center of what is otherwise clich├ęd teen drama. From John Hughes to Greta Gerwig, many filmmakers have delved into the world of teenagers and have told every conceivable story about teen life. Some of them are autobiographical, while others are fantasies. Director Greg Berlanti and screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker do not stray far from the familiar formula; the only difference is that we now have a gay character as our protagonist.

Simon's story is rather easy. He doesn't have to deal with intolerant parents, an oppressive community, overt religious judgment, or the fate of being ostracized. His fears are real, but it is clear he is in a safe space to navigate his sexuality and find his way of coming out. It is refreshing to see a film about a gay character where his story isn't incredibly dire, and though there is an element of the story where his coming-out is jeopardized by a contrived plot, all ends well for Simon.

Nick Robinson is lovely as our lead, and the supporting cast, which includes Katherine Langford and Alexandra Shipp, are equally lovely. Robinson leads a cast that could easily be found in a classic Hughes movie. Every character is idealized, but every actor brings humanity and realness to their role. Simon is rather ordinary, his awkward nature is endearing, but he is still just very ordinary. There is nothing about him that makes him appear overtly gay, and that's what makes Love, Simon very important. As Simon says in the film, he is just like you.

To normalize the LGBT+ community in mainstream media, we need to see them for who they are: average, everyday people. Not every gay individual fits into a stereotype. There is another gay character in the movie named Ethan (Clark Moore), who is used to illustrate this point. Ethan fits into a gay stereotype whereas Simon does not. Berlanti saw the need to firmly establish this point, and he executes it brilliantly. Throughout this whole film you are reminded that being gay is not weird, surprising, or shocking. Or at least it shouldn't be anymore.

Stories like this one are important to tell, and hopefully this leads to more teen dramas with non-traditional protagonists. The status quo needs to change. We deserve to see stories that are personal and real from all perspectives. Love, Simon may not be groundbreaking, but it is a necessary movie that all audiences will enjoy.

Love, Simon releases March 16th, 2018 from 20th Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual references, language and teen partying. Its runtime is 1 hr. 49 min.

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