#REVIEW: “LOVE, SIMON”
LOVE, SIMON is exactly the type of Movie we needed growing-up, but better it come out later (pardon the pun) than never! Directed by Greg Berlanti (The CW‘s Arrowverse), the coming of age Dramedy is both one of the year’s first sleeper hits and a definite must-see.
The Story centers around Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted teenager who lives a relatively normal life in Atlanta. He finds love online via a high school gossip website, with someone named “Blue“, who also is going through the same identity struggle that he is, both remaining anonymous to one another. One day while using a computer at his school library (because his Vice Principal forbids cell phones vehemently), he forgets to log-out of his e-mail, leaving the door open to him being blackmailed.
Surrounding Simon are his best friends Leah (Katherine Langford), Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and Nick Eisner (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). Abby and Nick have feelings for one another, while Leah has been harbouring feelings too for her childhood friend Simon. Things get increasingly complicated when Simon begrudgingly makes a deal with his blackmailer who has feelings for Abby, wishing to be set-up with her. The more Simon gets to know his mystery lover via e-mail, the more he becomes fixated on uncovering his identity. All the while, he must appease his blackmailer in order to protect himself and his deepest secret. We wonder, what happens should Abby not reciprocate feelings for the blackmailer? Will Simon‘s secret will be leaked? What would happen to his friendships if his friends found out he had meddled in their affairs in order to protect himself? And how would him being gay impact his relationship with his loving family?
Based on the Novel Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the Story could not have been told more beautifully and delicately than this. Berlanti finds the perfect Simon in Robinson whom while appearing several years more mature than his character, embodies perfectly his vulnerability, level-headedness and his perpetual shame of being uncovered.
Behind Robinson though is an outstanding Supporting Cast. Somehow Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel now are relegated to playing parents of teens (where did the time go?) and they deliver some fine work as Nick‘s parents, the former attuned and aware, the latter a bit oblivious even though his heart is in a good place. Fresh-faced Talitha Bateman as Simon’s little sister Nora while seen little, gives us a performance that is both sensitive and heartwarming how much she loves her family. Langford, who sprung to fame overnight on Netflix‘s 13 Reasons Why, continues to show us why that Golden Globe nomination was no fluke, highly-likable in her understatedness, even though we wished she had a bit more to work with in her character. Natasha Rothwell (Insecure) is the Film’s definitive scenestealer as unhinged drama coach Ms. Albright, owning single-handedly a few of the Film’s best moments. Paul Hale (Arrested Development) is a delight in his over-the-top need for acceptance from his students. Keiynan Lonsdale as Bram Greenfeld had plenty of girls screaming at our screening and understandably so, possessing much magnetism.
Jack Antonoff (fun., Bleakers) brings his nostalgic 80s-inspired Synth-Pop to the Film’s Soundtrack and it works completely, helping make it feel unmistakably fun and young, while also incredibly aware and mature.
Robinson‘s Simon is the perfect imperfect role model we wish we had growing-up. Perhaps if Love, Simon existed sooner there might even be fewer problems in this world. The Film is a sign of times, sitting very much with where we are in a post-Obama world and a call for inclusiveness, tolerance and change.
20th Century Fox Canada release LOVE, SIMON Friday, March 16, 2018.