Starring: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner
Director: Greg Berlanti
Running Time: 110 mins
Love, Simon is an American film about a high schooler struggling to find the moment to reveal a secret to his friends and family: that he’s gay. However, upon hearing of a mystery classmate in a similar situation, he begins to come to terms with his identity, and perhaps even find the right time to come out to those around him.
This is an amazing film. A great high school drama and romantic drama rolled into one it certainly is, but Love, Simon is above all a masterpiece of coming-of-age cinema, with a beautiful and enthralling eye for the struggles of growing up and coming to terms with who you really are, combined with moving and achingly awkward drama that absolutely anyone can relate to.
In that, the fillm establishes itself as one of the very best coming-of-age movies of all time, with astonishing drama, heartwarming and inspiring themes, funny humour, likable characters and a truly great story that opens up an incredible angle to the genre that really hasn’t been explored so brilliantly before.
There is so much to praise about Love, Simon, so let’s start off simple: with the film’s delightful range of characters and lead performances. In the central role as Simon, Nick Robinson is absolutely fantastic from beginning to end, striking such a difficult balance between portraying the struggles of growing up and what is often referred to as teen angst with real dramatic gravitas at every moment.
On top of that, he gives a hugely likable performance as a teenager struggling to come to terms with something about himself that he fears people will see as weird and different, and in doing so only makes it easier for you as the viewer to relate to all his thoughts, and see yourself in the struggles he encounters.
It’s a wonderful performance that’s on a completely different level to what we often expect from more generic teen movies, right up there with other modern classics of the genre like Hailee Steinfeld’s turn in The Edge Of Seventeen and Elsie Fisher’s performance in Eighth Grade.
But while Robinson is a scene-stealer throughout the whole movie, Love, Simon isn’t just about one teenager, and that comes through with its wonderful collection of supporting characters and performances. Robinson may hold the key focus of the film and its assessment of growing up and all its struggles, but the supporting characters are the people that will really endear you to Love, Simon, with a range of individuals that tap into a number of different situations and emotional states that you may be able to relate to even more than Simon’s situation.
Whether it be the endless failures of a nerd to get the girl he wants, the reactions of a parent to learning a great secret about their own son, or the frustrations of young love in all its guises, there is something that everyone can sympathise with and understand about Love, Simon, something that makes it not only a brilliantly engaging watch, but an immersive, enthralling and astonishingly moving film too.
At the outset, you may think that Love, Simon is rather a one-trick pony, but not only does it give a stunningly powerful and beautifully genuine account of the psyche of a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, it also tells an all-encompassing coming-of-age story that people of all ages, backgrounds and sexual orientations can relate to, and to see a film that achieves that in such powerful fashion is something really special.
Of course, one of the big differences about Love, Simon from the stories of most Hollywood coming-of-age films is that it tells the story of a main character who is gay. While that doesn’t change the romantic aspect of the plot in any way – with Love, Simon impressing hugely in its latter stages with some sublimely romantic drama – it does introduce another degree of emotional intrigue into the story, as Simon wrestles with the potential fallout from his family and friends finding out he’s gay.
Now, the development of films telling stories about gay people has brought so many new stories to life over recent years, but a common thread in many of them focuses on the gay identity as something that’s repressed and actively worked against. Of course, that is still sadly a reality in the modern day, so stories like that have great value on the big screen, but there’s something about Love, Simon’s more normal, day-to-day portrayal of homosexuality that feels so thoroughly refreshing.
While there are moments of the film that focus on discrimination, Love, Simon does a brilliant job at further normalising homosexuality in film, telling a story that both focuses on the unique qualities, struggles and emotions of being gay in the modern world, as well as crafting an atmosphere that feels exactly like the classic coming-of-age dramas that we all know and love. It’s a brilliant marriage of two enthralling and inspiring genres of cinema, and one I’m astonished not to have seen in such impressive fashion beforehand, but it makes for a truly special film throughout.
In the end, I absolutely adored Love, Simon. A charismatic, likable, relatable and enjoyable coming-of-age story from beginning to end, the film is undeniably an immediate classic of the genre, with moving emotion that will both hit you hard and make your heart soar, a collection of stunning performances and characters, and drama that tells a unique story while also bringing homosexuality into a more mainstream sphere in the coming-of-age genre. Because of all of that, Love, Simon is an absolute must-watch for anybody with a love for film and memories of growing up, which is why I’m giving this an 8.6 overall.