Everyone deserves a great love story. For Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), rapidly approaching the end of his high school it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. Based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, this film may appear to simply be the latest YA novel adaptation made to entice teenagers into their local multiplexes. A high school movie with the familiar hurdles of teenage friendships, misunderstood signals and parental interventions on the surface and yet Love, Simon is much more.
Simon's journey is different to those teenage tales we have seen before. He is wrestling with his sexuality, how to tell his family, how to tell his friends and working out how to be who he truly is, a young gay man. Not a stereotype, not an over exaggerated flamboyant character but a normal teenager navigating the normal trials and tribulations while realising who he truly is.
I had moments of irritation in the early goings of this film. I always struggle with the notion that teenagers really talk in grand, sweeping statements as depicted here; his well meaning vice principal is one of the most irritating things I've endured in cinema for a while and his family seem a little too perfect, a little too idealised; however this eases as time progresses and Josh Duhamel as Simon's father in particular is a character that deserves great praise for how he deals with his son's revelations when they arrive. Despite the sheen of a clean exterior, there is grit and wrestling beneath the surface here that is heartfelt and genuine.
Simon's friendships also feel genuine. There is a relationship between the main group of four that reminded me of friendships of old, unbreakable and equally brittle at the same time. All encompassing and yet, oddly fragile and fickle. When all falls apart (as it tends to in teenage movies) the loneliness Simon experiences is authentic and as he checks his phone regularly in desperation seeking restored connections I felt every bit of his pain.
The reactions are every bit as important as Simon's own story. They are hurt initially as they feel Simon could have trusted them with his news but ultimately they show great resilience and treat Simon no differently than before. If only some adults were so mature when faced with similar information!
If I have any concerns regarding Love, Simon it is simply that it will become lost in the frequently revolving door of cinema releases. This is the real tragedy as the rapid fire release schedule could hurt this endearing film's chances of finding it's audience in time to be classed a success.
Ultimately Love, Simon tells us that knowing who you are and being who you are is not always easy but is always worth it in the long run. It is an important and well thought out depiction of coming out, which many teenagers may cite in years to come as a helpful aid in their own stories when they feel the time is right.
Love,Simon is in cinemas from 6th April 2018.
Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access.