By Jack Dignan
Love, Simon is the sappy, tender, romantic comedy 2018 oh so desperately needs. It’s a film for the ages, one that will speak to this generation’s teenagers in ways teen films before it haven’t been able to. See this film. You’re going to need to. Before last night’s premiere, lead actor Nick Robinson begged us to spread the word of this film, even if we don’t like it, and while that could simply be shrugged off as an actor trying to get a bigger pay check, with Love, Simon, things are different. You don’t have to like this film, but its importance can’t be understated. And when you do take everyone you know to go see it (which you will, right?), please… make sure you bring some tissues.
Simon (Robinson) is just a normal, everyday teenager facing the same typical teenager problems you or I are facing, or have already faced. Except Simon’s got a secret… nobody knows he’s gay. It’s a secret he’s still attempting to come to terms with, unsure of how to reveal it to the world let alone put his feelings into words, but then, much to Simon’s shock and delight, a fellow student anonymously posts online that they’re in the same boat. They’re both harboring the same secret, and through it, they begin a friendship, despite having literally zero idea who the other person is.
Now, I warn you, from here on out, things are about to get emotional. As Simon continues to express his true feelings for the first time, talking through life’s woes and worries with a total stranger, he begins to fall in love. It becomes his goal to work out who this person is, but his secret is sabotaged when a fellow student accidentally discovers his sexuality, using it as a means of blackmail. Simon must face who he is, reevaluate himself and come to terms with his own being in what’s already a strong contender for the title of 2018’s most emotionally resonate movie.
Love, Simon is just the right amount of sappy. It’s a real, quirky, down to earth rom-com of sorts with a strong dramatic edge and one foot firmly planted in the realm of realism. The screenplay by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, based on the book by Becky Albertalli, is all sorts of wonderful. It’s earnest, moving and emotional, yet funny and relatable all at the same time. You’ll fall in love with Simon from the moment he’s first introduced on screen, empathizing and connecting with his real-world issues that will deeply resonate with not just anyone who’s ever been in his situation, but also a vast majority of straight audiences too. This is a film for everyone.
Nick Robinson proves he’s far more talented than we ever could have imagined, and when he’s not running away screaming from dinosaurs, there’s some real heartfelt humanity in his performance that deserves to be seen. He’s a star in the making. Sure, he’s been in big blockbusters and sappy romances before, but Love, Simon is the first film of his that I’d truly describe as breathtaking. While Robinson serves as our protagonist, the supporting cast shouldn’t go without recognition, because I’m pretty sure each and every one of them made me cry at least once.
Simon’s parents, played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, are the perfect, real world parents a character like Simon could want. They’re out there and likeable, but not afraid to get real, and this shows in the third act, which literally had me in tears for the entire last half an hour. Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. also all give in absolutely fantastic performances as Simon’s best friends. While there is a drastic overly dramatic response to something in the third act that felt unnecessarily unfair, the rest of their screen time is used effectively, hilariously and relatable. And then there’s Logan Miller, so great to the point where I genuinely can’t trust the dude in real life anymore.
Director Greg Berlanti, arriving shortly after the release of such future teen movie classics as Lady Bird and Edge of Seventeen, has created something that doesn’t necessarily blow the genre into a new dimension, and is certainly predictable in a lot of its subplots, but instead provides a new perspective for films like this and it remains fucking incredible. I’m calling it now; Love, Simon is the teen movie of 2018. I got emotional just listening to the soundtrack this morning. Why even make straight rom-coms anymore when Love, Simon is better than all of them?
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