‘Love, Simon’ Review – Greg Berlanti Brings An Engaging Teen Drama
An engaging teen drama that arrives at just the right time to complement the diversity and originality that the film industry needs.
I am slightly too young to be a huge fan of ‘The Breakfast Club’, but I do remember watching it with friends and I really appreciated the simplicity of the film that didn’t need a huge dramatic narrative to be memorable to audiences for years. While I would usually crave lots of action, adventures, twists and turns to heighten my excitement and tension I am also appreciative, every now and then, of a much gentler film that you find yourself smiling all the way through. I found this film emotionally impactful and the performances seemed real and genuine and I hope it will touch the hearts of cinema-goers around the world for the right reasons.
‘Love, Simon’ is based on the book by Becky Albertelli called ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ and follows the story of closeted gay teenager Simon as he battles the pathway to find his true identity while dealing with the secrets of his friends, a blackmailer and a soulmate with a hidden identity. The film is directed by Greg Berlanti, the super-producer, director and writer behind many of our modern TV series from the DC universe and Archie Comics and he continues to serve young adult characters so well. Simon (played by ‘Jurassic Worlds’ Nick Robinson) is a genuinely likeable character that doesn’t play up to other mainstream stereotypes and brings the story to life in such an affectionate way. Simon’s college routine is interrupted by an anonymous blogger who, like Simon, publishes that he is living in the closet and isn’t sure when it will be right to come out. Simon seeks out to connect and discover who the blogger is, but is caught up in a web of blackmail by the truly unlikeable (but brilliantly characterised) Martin who discovers his secret. Some painful miscommunications later result in Simon’s secret being revealed in the most vicious ways and also unravels a web of lies Simon had been using to divert attention.
The discovery by his family, friends and peers is handled truthfully and honestly by Berlanti and the ending is sweet and idyllic. There were some excellent performances by Robinson and also a mention to Katherine Langford (’13 Reasons Why’) who, although in danger of being typecast as a forlorn teenager, brings a strong performance as Simon’s best friend Leah. Jennifer Garner plays Simon’s mum and delivers one of the best lines of dialogue in the piece that screams out to so many young people searching for their true selves. Josh Duhamel, Alexandra Shipp, Keiynan Lonsdale and Tony Hale also feature in the cast and bring shades of both light and dark to their performances throughout.
There is a lot to be said about this movie, and with a major studio stepping forward and featuring a gay teenage romance as the focus (and not a side plot) we are truly experiencing cinema this year that focuses on originality and stories that NEED to be told. Early indications are that this film has hit the right spot with so many audiences within the target demographic and beyond, and I can see why. It’s a film like this which cements my decision to invite Greg Berlanti to my dream dinner party one day.
‘Love, Simon’ is in cinemas now.
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Gray has been teaching Media and Film studies for 11 years now, and saturates himself in a world of TV and Film. Can most regularly be found with his iPad bingeing on a TV series whenever there is a spare moment between planning and marking. Gray has 3 years of writing experience for exam boards and educational resource companies too.