Love, Simon - Greg Berlanti (2018)
Updated: Mar 17, 2021
Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon Spier, it's a little more complicated. He hasn't told his family or friends that he's gay, and he doesn't know the identity of the anonymous classmate that he's fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying, and life-changing.
‘Love Simon’, on my first viewing was an extremely emotional experience for me, but not necessarily for the reasons that the film aimed to provoke. The sole factor that I’ll admit made by eyes a bit sweaty was that this film presented itself as a utopia. A world so distant that it almost seems too ideal to ever become a concrete reality. The film, directed by Greg Berlanti, follows Simon who is navigating high school life as a closeted teenager and along the way, falls in love with another anonymous closeted classmate online. It’s a romance film that unfolds simultaneously with our protagonist attempting to figure out who he should be. The film doesn’t have any complex themes or nuance within its story and that works for this film, it’s a simple coming of age gay romance. Clearly this was meant to string a chord with LGBTQ+ teens and offer a message on how, in Simons words: ‘We all deserve a great love story’.
However back to my point about this film being a utopia, the struggles and stakes for our character are not large at all. Simon is a white, cis, male with supportive parents and a large group of healthy friends at school. His biggest conflict is clearly him being gay and how he should present himself to the world which is something that all who deal with will find challenging. But the way that this film plays out makes his life seems…. too easy. I could’ve only dreamed if my coming out was as easy and filled with support that he experiences. For many LGBTQ+ teens I believe this film offers a melancholic tone as the world that the director construes is too perfect.
This is a perfect transition to observe the character of Ethan, played by Clark Moore, who is already an out student but a person of colour with more feminine characteristics. We hear his story in a two-minute scene when Simon claims that he had it ‘easy’ and Ethan offers his harsher story of coming out to him. Ethan’s character is so much more complex than Simons and to only have all his struggles delivered in a very short monologue, emphasises the misuse of the character. His insight could’ve given so much more depth to the experience that LGBTQ+ teens more commonly face but yet again, who am I to say that Simon’s experiences aren’t as valid. I am not criticising the character of Simon as his struggles resonate with many but rather the external conditions that all seemed to work in his favour. This is the reason why the movie works so well in contrast.
The script gets so much of Simons quirks that seem so individual to him yet represent the minor experiences of LGBTQ+ teens. What I found the funniest was his YouTube obsession with Panic at the Disco when he was in middle school, the unrequited crush he has on Brandon Urie. Small things like this are personal to him but yet so relatable, as, I’ll admit I had the same trait with a band who’s name I will not disclose. All in all I believe that the film is pretty great. It’s emotional depth doesn’t really target the right places but that is more of a flaw that can only be produced due to individual experiences. I recommend this to any LGBTQ+ teens but will further recommend Love Victor which is a tv show that is a spinoff within the Love Simon world.