‘Excellent pacing and a beautifully told romance’
2018 in Cinema:
Love, Simon, 2018
Directed by: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner
Love, Simon is a high-school teen drama about Simon (Nick Robinson, Everything Everything) who is secretly gay and soon learns about an online persona from another secretly gay lad at school, and the two soon begin conversing, leaving their real-life names and details hidden. Simon soon develops a romantic interest in Blue (the name of the other gay lad) and begins seeking him out in school.
I’ve mentioned it time and time again that high school teen films are not my area of interest, but Love, Simon is actually a really good film. The acting is superb, especially from Nick Robinson. He really sells the predicament and the anguish he goes through, and his anger-filled rant later on in the film had me so invested in him. And the way the characters were written, I found myself, like Simon was, hanging on to almost every word that any other lad said to him to try and spot which of the three main contenders it could be. I love that element from who-done-it thrillers, and it cleverly uses it in a teen romance drama. And the disappointment on Simon’s face when one of the characters is seen kissing another girl is presented so beautifully through their acting that you genuinely feel so sorry for Simon, and that is a tremendous credit to the writing staff and the actors on screen.
The film is also really well paced; from the early conversations to being fully intimate with their personal feelings, and the three could-be lads that may or may not be Blue, but it also gives so much time to the other characters who are also crushing on other people and living life as teenagers (booze, parties and teachers). It’s so much more than Simon’s love-life, and that really helps the final act of the film as everything seems to come together.
But one of my favourite aspects of this film was the way it handled the email conversations. Simon’s speech on the trailers about he’s just like you but he’s got this secret is the opening of the film (as it introduces us to Simon and his life) and the opening email to Blue. Then we hear a generic male voice reading aloud Blue’s replies until Simon believes Blue is Bram (Keiynan Lonsdale), then all the imaginary images of this generic male become Bram, and the voice reading the emails aloud becomes Bram’s. And this repeats for when he believes it to be Lyle (Joey Pollari) and whoever else he suspects it may be. During the in-between process it’s the generic voice and figure, but whenever he suspects someone and romanticises himself with them, the voice and image become that of them, and I really liked that aspect to this film.
However I despised one of the characters, Martin (Logan Miller), more so than they probably initiated. He blackmails Simon largely throughout the film (and his character is quite annoying and the blackmailing is quite controlling) and doesn’t really get much comeuppance for his actions later in the film. He makes a horrible mistake (by his own admission) and that leads to the conflict in the final act (which also reveals every devious action Simon had had to do throughout the film) and it just gets pushed aside. It almost says that it’s all okay and he was fine to have done it, which was a bit disappointing.
But the most annoying thing about this film, and it’s not necessarily about anything that happened during the film itself it’s more against those who created the film, is the trailer. The main trailer, having seen the film, reveals everything that happens. The entire plot. From meeting Blue, speaking with Blue, the faces of who Blue may be, the leaking of the emails, the waiting on the carousel for Blue, everything that was quite major in the film was spoiled by the trailers, and that is disappointing to see. It’s a combination of the trailer using too much plot information in their trailer and the film not offering any form of surprises outside of what the trailer presented. Again it’s nothing particularly against Love, Simon as a film, but those who created it on the whole.
And while I appreciate it is a very good film, it’s still a high-school teen romance drama and comes with all the stereotypes that offers. The teachers whose dialogue doesn’t sound right (as they’re trying to be ‘cool’ like the kids), the high school bullies whose bullying is PG-worthy, the amazing friends and family that he has (who don’t bat an eyelid about his sexuality), it’s all very nicey-nicey and takes away the more serious dramatic elements that are presented in films such as Moonlight. That’s a nit-pick on a personal level, but the fantastical element of American high school teen films does take away my belief that this could be a true story being told.
But, that being said, Love, Simon is a very entertaining film, beautifully combining elements of its genre with those from who-done-it mysteries really well, with excellent pacing and a beautifully told romance through 21st-century technology (even if emailing via a school’s network page, rather than social media, is not the most modern form of communication). It disappointed with its believability and the teacher character, and the trajectory of Martin do deter somewhat from it, but not too much to present this film with a negative light.
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