Love, Simon (2018)

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Greg Berlanti directs Nick Robinson, Logan Miller and Katherine Langford in this teen romantic comedy about a gay lad who is forced “out” when he begins communicating with another anonymous boy from his school.

Love, Simon is a safe and neat teen flick. In fact, what is most impressive about it is it deals with a teen coming out, his emotions and feelings, within the brisk, personality-lite, faded primary colour mode of any other mid budget studio teen movie of the last decade. To have a toothpaste commercial looking kid and his Patagonia model looking mates go through his standard product adolescent love life normalises the tumultuous feelings a unrepresented minority of children must go through. I get the inkling that in the long term Love, Simon will be a more important film for young gays, bis and questionings than say Call Me By Your Name. While both are idealised fantasies of high income living, one is a summer romance so prestigious and nostalgic as to be unattainable while Love, Simon at least looks and talks and posts and blands in a way a 14 year old kid might find recognisable and relatable. Which is not to say it is a great film. It lacks the wit of say The Duff or Edge of Seventeen… only the teachers get anything resembling a good line (MVP shared between Tony Hale’s gawky Vice principal and Natasha Rothwell’s stupified drama teacher). Equally there’s none of the artistry or rawer emotions of Lady Bird or The Spectacular Now. It seems quite content being a xerox of a John Hughes movie. Apeing the aesthetic and sounds of a three decades old creative to lend this relatively toothless confection an air of quality. And this sadly is where Love, Simon fails within its modest aims. Simon and his mates in their sneering rejection of outsiders, their car shares, gossiping, million dollar homes, and iced coffee binges feel more like the Blanes and the Steffs than the Andies and the Duckies. Simon lies to and manipulates his friends (albiet for a mixture of selfish self-protection and vague nobility) and even tries to change the dorkish villian by telling him not to show any of his personality or tastes. Even the unsubtle blackmailer knows he still needs to be himself. He wants to be himself, just not ignored by the cool girls. I’m not sure whether the troubling ramifications of that moment are entirely intentional. Have we just acknowledged that Simon’s gang would rather only be with their own handsome yet unthreatening clique rather than accept the loud, over confident geek on his own terms? Just look at their continued passive pity staring at the actually bravely out, effeminate gay kid. Are we supposed to like these semi-skimmed jabronis? And as for the romance aspect… there isn’t one. Two anonymous voices guessing who each other might be, while a solid plot concept, sadly doesn’t a hot connection make. Sure, they share a moment of forced intimacy together at the very end but we have no investment as to whether Simon and his “Blue” will have any kind of sexual relationship after the credits roll. Even mismatched Bender and Claire would have had a one-off, hot and heavy weekend after their Breakfast Club get together… I’m not sure how much I care about bland coward number one and bland fibber number two hanging out a bit more after so little physical contact. Given the conceit, maybe Sleepless in Seattle might have been the better movie to crib from?

5

 

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