Love Simon review: Greg Berlanti directs this involving young adult drama, which based on the book “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli.
Love Simon review by Awais Irfan.
In the recent tide of gay love stories hitting screens, following Carol, Moonlight, and Call Me By Your Name, we have our first one aimed at the young-adult crowd in Love, Simon and it’s quite the treat.
Simon (Nick Robinson) has great friends, a loving family, and a happy life. Mostly. There is one big secret he keeps tucked away from all of them, though: he’s gay. When an anonymous student from his school comes out as gay online, Simon begins confiding his secrets in him and the pair quickly develop a rapport, with Simon finding himself falling for the user only known to him as Blue. However, when the emails between them leak throughout his school, Simon finds himself having to come to terms with his secret being out in the open.
The problem with most romantic YA films of this nature (think The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay or even Twilight) is that they tend to lose their footing in trying to be too accessible for their audiences, often finding themselves pandering to them instead and being all too idealistic and mushy. Where Love, Simon excels is in eschewing all that; this is a mature, rich and brilliantly realised love-story and one that is made the more heart-breaking and poignant as a result. The characters, that of Simon especially, and the friendships/relationships are all so nuanced – they’re grounded in authenticity – and, mostly, believable, which makes them relatable and riveting to watch. We find ourselves thoroughly invested in Simon’s story and rooting for him to succeed and find love, making his journey throughout the film one that packs quite the emotional punch.
Yet, despite trying its best to veer away from the genre tropes, Love, Simon does fall into having that cheesy, contrived YA dialogue at times and it’s a little unevenly paced too – the film meanders around aimlessly every so often, with nothing happening for a while before getting itself back on track. For the first major studio film to tackle a delicate topic such as sexuality (which is quite the risk), it plays it a little too safe in the third act and becomes quite predictable towards its closing minutes. However, given that the characters are so meticulously established and we are so emotionally invested in the larger story, there’s an irreverence for these flaws because of how riveted we are by the story on hand. The performances are also brilliant – Robinson, especially, gives such emotionally charged work here – and the chemistry between this energetic, talented young cast is veritable and it makes all the relations so much richer and more believable.
Related: Call Me By Your Name review
Love, Simon is such a charming affair; it’s off-beat and witty, yet so grounded in palpable pathos and emotion. There’s relatability and warmth to the flawed, likeable Simon and Robinson radiates charisma; we care for this character. And because we care, we find ourselves desperate to see him succeed which makes for quite the touching, absolutely heart-wrenching watch. This is not only a great film because of its big beating heart; this is a great film because of its message. This film works as well as it does because of how delicately it is handled and in its ineffable realisation and execution. At its core, Love, Simon is a universal story about love but it’s one told through gay characters which, for many, will mean representation and accessibility in a major film of this calibre. This is an important film, yes. Thank goodness that it’s also fantastic.
Love Simon review by Awais Irfan, February 2018.
Love Simon was reviewed at the 2018 Glasgow Film Festival. It will be released across the UK on 6th April, 2018.