Exploring the turbulent nature of holding in a heavy secret; Love, Simon explores the complications of coming-out as gay in the modern world while working elegantly as a compelling coming-of-age drama.
Love, Simon is a romantic comedy-drama based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – it follows the story of a young boy named Simon (Nick Robinson) reaching the end of his days in high school and the obstacles he must face when coming out as gay while learning of another mysterious student at his school whom he messages anonymously.
The premise of this film focuses on the specific reasons why Simon is struggling to buckle down and reveal the truth about himself to his friends and family, deep down he wants to hold onto his old life and is terrified at the prospect of the world not accepting him. Much of the film follows Simon holding in his secret like a block of iron weighing him down. As events move forward Simon must confront the reality that he will never be himself as long as he hides away that part of who he is.
This film has elements to it that slightly bring it away from reality, while the premise is compelling and the characters are layered there is still a strong scent of the generic high school movie formula throughout, from the stereotypical bullies to the general portrayal of the high school environment being some defined social hierarchy. Another notable part of Love, Simon is that it tends to pull its punches for the sake of appealing to the masses, avoiding the topic of sexual confusion and frustration so the narrative is more digestible for a wider audience and not too intimidating, and while I don’t expect every film that explores this subject matter to be on par with Call Me by Your Name (2017), some moments could have been more grounded.
Nick Robinson does a great job at portraying a young man in conflict with himself, holding in his emotions as they build and build until they release at moments that he almost can’t contain them. Robinson manages to offer up some subtle facial cues that give hints that Simon is hiding something internally, whenever an uncomfortable topic arises you can feel his anxiety tighten, as the film moves onward the secret becomes suffocating and tension begins to boil over for Simon. Robinson has made a fantastic step in his career as an actor. Other roles by many of the supporting cast were also great additions, each felt like they had their own problems they were dealing with their own obstacles, while the film primarily focused on Simon it was nice to get some change of pace and see an outsider’s perspective. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel play the role of the parents and offer up some fairly tidy performances and heart to heart moments.
The pacing of this film is engaging and keeps one interested in Simon’s life, and the film makes sure it doesn’t drag too much. You do get some nice cut together visuals and editing with the back and forth messaging between Simon and his mysterious partner. The camera-work was standard but offered some nice lighting and was proficient enough to look well directed.
Love, Simon doesn’t take leaps at innovation in storytelling, but it’s a readily open and available narrative providing a wide range of audiences to see and experience the message, and that message is strong.