Greg Berlanti’s film Love, Simon is a heart-warming, coming-of-age tale that teaches us three important lessons: self-acceptance, general acceptance and that when you talk to someone nice online, they aren’t always a Catfish.
In all seriousness, this film – particularly in our post-Plebiscite Australia which left many people in the LGBT community feeling alienated – is a necessary, affirmative antidote. The plot follows Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay teenager who, after seeing an anonymous coming-out post on his high school’s gossip page, impulsively begins an e-mail correspondence with the writer who goes by “Blue”. However, their growing friendship (and Simon’s secret) are soon threatened after he leaves his e-mail open on a public computer and finds himself being blackmailed by fellow drama student Martin (Logan Miller) who wants to date his friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp). What follows are a set of hilarious, awkward and tense events as Simon struggles to keep his secret and act like Cupid with his friend’s love lives, all the while attempting to discover who Blue is.
The film (and for the record, the book) avoids the melodramatic tropes that are usually expected from the young adult genre. The anxieties of coming out, even while being sure that you’ll be accepted by your friends and family, are addressed alongside the strong message that only the person coming out has the right to determine when and how they do it. To allay your unspoken fears: no, this film does not go the pot-holed John Green route and suddenly have a character die with an unlit cigarette in their mouth – it has some heart-breaking moments but ultimately keeps a tone of warmth. No character is necessarily a “side” character – each possesses their own quiet complexities. His best friends Leah (portrayed by 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford), Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and Abby are very likeable and we find ourselves wanting a deeper glimpse into their lives and thoughts. Even Martin has a heart of gold and genuine adoration for Simon and his friends (if there was such a thing as wholesome blackmailing, he has found it). I must also mention Natasha Rothwell’s performance as the drama teacher Ms. Albright who is guaranteed to make you howl with laughter.
What separates it also establishes this film as a future classic is the underlying mystery: who the hell is Blue? You will be spending the entire film as Simon does: seeing a potential Blue in any male who interacts with him. It is hilariously akin to how we fantasise about crushes; usually over the most minimal interaction possible. This worker at the café smiled at me while handing me my change – so I guess he’s the love of my life then. We naturally become so invested in this mystery that every time Simon finds out a guy isn’t Blue, we feel the same spear of disappointment being thrust through our hearts. I know what you really want: to know if there is a great pay-off to this mystery? To which I will reply, rather pettily, that if I had to suffer with not knowing then so do you.
There are people who will disregard this as a “gay movie” but this is a film which anyone can relate to. The universal messages of self-acceptance, friendship and awareness that people are struggling with things you don’t know about are always relevant – and necessary. And even though this film does centre upon a young man accepting his sexuality; this is ultimately a film about friendship and love. It is an important film that a lot of young people will take comfort in who find themselves relating to Simon’s situation.
If a film can make an ice-hearted cynic like myself write such syrupy tripe like “friendship and love” – well then you best be sure it is a damn good movie.
Well at the very least: Tolerance,
Words by Jordan Early.