Love, Simon tells the story of a closeted gay high-schooler (Nick Robinson). One day, on a student web forum, an anonymous coming-out post appears, and Simon (disguised as Jacques) reaches out to its author, called Blue. From this tightly packed exposition, the film unfolds gracefully, drawing out each element and transforming it as the story progresses, adeptly using the usual patterns of tension, collapse and resolution. Despite the transparency of these techniques, what is less clear is whether they are easily spotted due to a certain clumsiness or the strength of the storytelling. Either way it makes for a very entertaining watch. The mystery of Blue’s identity is engaging, and Simon’s guessing draws the audience in even further.
What is really satisfying, however, is the union between comedy and drama that the feature represents. So often comedy pictures have flimsy plots, whereas “serious” themes are presented with much more of a straight face. Love, Simon has the best of both, and is funny, consistently. Yet despite the lightheartedness, the thematic content is profound, and the movie serves an important purpose: giving a voice to the presumably quite abstract, difficult and lonely experience that coming to terms with one’s sexuality can be. The growth of Simon’s character is expected, but the development of supporting roles adds another dimension, making the film that much more convincing.
However, whilst Love, Simon is very colourfully produced and therefore charming, it does come across perhaps a little too clean: overly manicured, even somewhat propagandistic. Everyone is beautiful and fashionable, the surroundings are perfect and the gender and ethnic diversity boxes are conscientiously ticked. Not that any of these things are inherently problematic of course, just that their blatancy makes them seem contrived; it feels as if meeting criteria was prioritised instead of giving the film consistency. There are certain (admittedly small, but still noticeable) continuity errors, such as Simon’s phone reading 3:20am at an evening dinner scene with his family.
Nevertheless, the movie manages to retain its realism with a good helping of conflict. The difficulty Simon has expressing himself, and the problems this causes – as well as the mistakes he makes – in his relationships render him the imperfect hero. He and his struggle are conveyed as deeply human and easily identifiable. In this way, Love, Simon is overwhelmingly successful, with a few minor wrinkles that can be dismissed in light of its many strengths.
Love, Simon is released nationwide on 6th April 2018.
Watch the trailer for Love, Simon here: