Seventeen-year-old Simon Spier is a seemingly normal teenager grappling with the struggles that every coming-of-age rom-com deals with, except he has a secret. He’s gay.
Based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon is centred around Simon, Nick Robinson, during his senior year in high school as he and his group of friends navigate the various pressures and dramas of being a teenager.
Love, Simon captures the struggles of high school life well on screen with the cliques, the bullies, the unrequited crushes and the fear of not being accepted.
Simon hasn’t come out to his friends or family yet, even though he seemingly has the perfect support system, that he acknowledges in his voiceover will accept him for who he is.
His parents, played by Josh Duhamal and Jenifer Garner, are extremely liberal and his family is portrayed as very close-knit and loving. His friends, played by up-and-coming actors such as Katherine Langford and Alexandra Shipp, are sensitive, artsy and kind. Yet Simon still can’t open up to any of them about his sexuality, and that is what makes the film so realistic. It portrays the very real isolation and loneliness that many gay teens may experience even when they have support around them.
The only person that Simon can build up the courage to come out to is an unknown pen-pal named ‘Blue’. They offer each other the understanding that their straight friends cannot and inspire each other to be brave and open about their sexuality.
The over-arching plot of the film revolves around finding out who ‘Blue’ is. As we follow the mystery of who he really is, Simon’s feelings change with every new potential prospect. This adds another realistic aspect to the film, as his crushes change easily in the same way most crushes do when you’re young and impressionable.
The other plot running alongside this involves a classmate named Martin, who discovers the secret emails with Blue and decides to blackmail Simon into helping him ask out Simon’s friend Abby. Unfortunately, this takes up most of the films running time and is then conveniently dismissed towards the end of the film – with no real repercussions for the blackmailer.
As Simon spends most of his time being blackmailed, Nick Robinson portrays him as distant and tetchy and thus the viewer is kept at arm’s length. Although this type of portrayal definitely makes sense, we don’t really gain much of an insight into Simon’s character as he tries to hide a huge part of his identity from everyone else.
Towards the end, we do see Simon open up in some genuinely moving scenes of him coming out to his family and friends, with each situation truly striking a chord with the viewer. ‘Love, Simon’ has made history by being the first major-studio release which has a gay character as the lead and is a huge step in the right direction for LGBT+ representation.
However, the film doesn’t revolve around the fact that Simon is gay but rather is focused on the struggle and inner turmoil he faces while coming out and that is what makes it so inclusive.
Overall, Love, Simon is not hugely different to any other teen rom-com and it does fall into the trap of being somewhat cheesy and cliché. It’s a very ordinary movie but that’s what is endearing about it – how relatable it is. Simon, who says at the start of the film “I’m just like you”, really is just like anyone else.