Though he's mostly known for his work behind TV projects such as The Flash, Super-girl, Black Lighting and Legends of Tomorrow, this is Greg Berlanti's first coming of age feature as of note. Based upon the book Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda - Love, Simon tells the story of Simon, a young teen with a seemingly perfect life - nice house, nice school, supportive family and loveable friends. Except he has one huge secret, he is gay and nobody knows it. After he is threatened by someone at school, Simon must learn to embrace who he truly is, and all the complications coming out brings with it.
Love, Simon is a sweet and tender teen tale that avoids most of the obvious cliches of being gay. Exploring the normalities of being homosexual - Berlanti emphasises how our sexuality doesn't define who we are, and that absolutely everybody is truly entitled to a "great love story". Reminiscent of John Hughes' acclaimed coming of age stories - Love, Simon plays precisely like an 80's rom-com, but this time mixed with a far more progressive premise.
Making history before even hitting the big screen, Love, Simon is the first mainstream gay high school rom-com. Yes it's easy to play the LGBT card, but Berlanti pulls something different out of the bag, creating a beautiful story with all the Disney channel glossy overtones but gaining a great deal of family friendly sentiment. Love, Simon may not be revolutionary in the world of cinema, but for standard teen rom-coms it's a significant breakthrough.
Clearly young American actor Nick Robinson escaped the evil clutches of the Indominous Rex back in 2015's Jurassic World. It's good job he ran as fast as his little legs could carry him otherwise he wouldn't have delivered what is evidently his finest performance to date. Wonderfully charming and innocently coy, Robinson is the beating heart at the centre of Love, Simon. His shy and compelling turn as introvert gay teenager will encourage and inspire many young members of the LGBT community to embrace themselves and be proud of who they are. There are a few shortcomings to his character, at times he is a little too inexpressive but ultimately Berlanti is highlighting the anxiety and insecurity that follows with coming out, conveying how quite literally anybody of any type could be gay. In Simon, Robinson delivers us a gay male lead - something so often absent in Hollywood casting schedules.
Another one of the many boxes Love, Simon confidently ticks is the delicate and perfectly crafted screenplay. Lines delivered across the board with perfect comedic timing, and as the story progresses and Simon begins to pick up clues as to who his hidden pen pal might be - the dialogue becomes even whittier and even smarter. Berlanti skilfully dodges the easy traps of cheesy dialog and cringeworthy teen character interaction. Love, Simon simply gets it, boasting an intelligent script that is both amusing and emotionally resonant.
Paradoxically, Love, Simon is so special by making itself seem so ordinary. The story is perhaps played a little safe with a mainstream structure at its core - it looses the edge classic teen flicks such as The Breakfast Club so distinctly have. However, the sugary innocence is also what makes Love, Simon so brave and endearing. Berlanti goes above and beyond, creating a gay love story that is doing everything in its power to blend in with the genre and seem, well, normal.
For a film that promotes self love, individuality and acceptance - Love, Simon is a universally inclusive coming of age romance that will encourage, inspire and empower. Being the first of its kind, Berlanti crafts a story that’s as progressive as you would expect, but far more charming than you'd have thought. It loves its audience, it loves its demographic but most importantly it loves the story it's trying to tell.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.