Glasgow Film Festival Review: ‘Love, Simon’

Simon is just like you, he has a normal family, amazing friends, a typical high school… a lot of his life is great, except for one huge secret, he is gay. This movie is charming, and funny. It has very topical pop culture references that the young audience are guaranteed to relate to.

The narrative feels a little televisual and episodic in part. Based on the Becky Albertalli YA novel ‘Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda‘, the chapters still break down clearly on screen. This isn’t a problem per se, but there are a number of the things that are evident in the film. Director Greg Berlanti has written for a number of shows including ‘Arrow’ and ‘Supergirl’. In addition, screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker also wrote ‘This Is Us’ for NBC.

If you consider these writing credits and two of the supporting cast; Katherine Langford and Miles Heizer, who also starred in the Netflix series ‘13 Reasons Why‘, you can see that this film is aimed at the boxset binge-watching teen demographic. The cast is actually pretty convincing as young adults leaving high school. Nick Robinson (‘Jurassic World’, ‘The Kings of Summer’) as lead Simon, plays the heightened emotional drama of high school well. His other friends Amelia (Alexandra Shipp; ‘X-Men Apocalypse’, ‘Straight Outta Compton’) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr; ‘Spider-man Homecoming’, ‘Brigsby Bear’) appear genuine and spirited.

The least convincing of the cast of Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner as Simon’s parents. This may be the fault of the script or their lack of time on screen, but their scenes feel a little conventional. The coming out scene where Simon talks to his parents and reveals his sexuality is possibly the most unrealistic portrait of gay life I’ve seen on film. Duhamel’s character has too many contrived “funny lines” to be taken seriously.

That said, ‘Love, Simon’ is otherwise a fun and engaging film. It is full of teenage pop culture references, and the school’s drama department is featured in a lot of sassy laugh-out-loud scenes. We can see that the film has an awareness at times, of its own narrative and the tropes of the teen genre. In one scene Simon imagines what it is like to out and proud at the university. This is summed up in an ironic song and dance sequence and finishes with the line “…maybe not that gay”.

Though the cast is diverse, Love, Simon‘ is predominantly about a comfortable middle-class white family. It is very easy to sit here and judge it on those terms… however, the film does address an inner turmoil during what can be a very emotional time as a young closeted gay man. It has a sugar sweetheart. The music and the tone of the film are sentimental. Nevertheless, it is positive to see that gay representation is trickling through from the left-field and into the mainstream.

Zach Roddis | [rating=3]

Comedy, Romance | USA, 2018 | 12A | 6th April 2018 (UK)| 20th Century Fox Pictures |Dir.Greg Berlanti | Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford