A best-selling teen novel has become this spring’s most charming gay film.
Simon Spier is a typical teenager. He dates girls, hangs out with his friends and enjoys a nice rapport with his family. But Simon is harboring a secret.
“I like your boots,” he nervously says to the hunky gardener, who shakes his head and turns away. Yes, Simon is gay, and he’s afraid to tell anyone about it.
“Love, Simon,” openly gay director Greg Berlanti’s new film, follows Simon on his journey out of the closet and on a search for love. The film is a hilariously good-natured but also a
quite touching look at the horrors of teen angst in our internet era. It’s based on Becky Albertalli’s novel, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.”
One of the first things viewers might notice about “Love, Simon” is the diversity of the cast. Simon’s circle of friends is a close-knit group, and race is a non-issue to the group. It’s an accurate portrayal of the world that many of today’s teens live in.
As the story gets under way, Simon’s school is buzzing after one of the students, who identifies himself only as “Blue”, posts on a message board that he’s gay. Everyone wants to know who Blue is, especially Simon, who begins an e-correspondence with his unidentified classmate.
The two open their hearts to each other, and Simon soon finds himself falling in love with someone he’s neither met nor spoken to. He wants to meet, but Blue declines and continues to keep his identity a secret.
There are many hilarious moments as Simon wrongly assumes that every male he meets is Blue. At one point he wonders why straight is always the default. This is followed by
a collage of side-splitting fantasy sequences in which Simon’s friends come out to their parents—as straight.
“I like men,” one girl tells her mom, who bursts into tears.
Mostly, “Love, Simon” is a tender and sweet film about a young man looking to find his place in the world. Simon’s story is a universal tale; being a teenager is never easy. As we see throughout the film, Simon’s straight friends are also looking for love, often just as awkwardly.
Newcomer Nick Robinson is wonderful as Simon. He hits all the right notes as Simon stumbles around in the dark trying to find Blue while he hopes that none of his friends will discover his secret.
“Did you break up with me because I look like a guy?” Simon’s ex-girlfriend asks him.
“No, I broke up with you because you don’t look like a guy,” Simon replies.
Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel also offer fine work as Simon’s loving and accepting parents. The film includes a particularly powerful scene in which Dad apologizes to Simon for not realizing the truth sooner.
Although ostensibly a comedy, “Love Simon” is a universal, true-to-life story. Whether gay or straight, we’ve all been Simon at one point in our lives.
David-Elijah Nahmod is a San Francisco-based writer whose eclectic career includes work for LGBTQ and Jewish publications as well as monster magazines. You can follow him on Twitter at @DavidElijahN and read his monthly film-review column at PrizmNews.com.