We came rather late to this, deterred mostly by its trailer, which appeared to pitch a very different kind of film indeed, making it look like a lame, ‘ten years too late’ attempt at a coming-out movie. But after hearing very good word of mouth, we decide to give it a chance and, as it turns out, Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon, is actually a sprightly, wittily-scripted film, which (unusually for a teen vehicle) seems to really understand the characters it’s depicting. This isn’t the first film that’s suffered from an underwhelming trailer but I’ve rarely seen such a poor attempt to convey a movie’s evident strengths.
Simon (Nick Robinson – no, not that Nick Robinson!) is a handsome, likeable teenager, currently going through his final year at high school. He has a trio of close friends and is currently rehearsing for the school’s production of Cabaret. But he has a secret. He’s gay, something he’s known about for several years. He’s certainly not the only gay pupil at the school. For instance, there’s Ethan (Clark Moore), who is happily out of the closet and makes no secret of his sexual orientation, but Simon just can’t bring himself to tell anyone, particularly his liberal and totally open-minded parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel). He doesn’t want anything to change; he’s comfortable with his image and the way he fits in. It’s not that he thinks he will face any overt homophobia (well, maybe from a couple of ne-er-do-wells, but not from anyone who matters), just that he’s not ready to share this part of who he is.
Still, when he discovers some posts on school gossip blog, Craig’s Secrets, from another secretly gay boy calling himself ‘Blue,’ Simon responds enthusiastically, and the two of them begin to correspond regularly. But who is Blue? Will Simon ever meet him in real life? And will either of them ever come out into the open? In Simon’s case, the matter is taken out of his hands when a classmate chances upon his secret and threatens to expose him, unless he helps the blackmailer out with a certain situation. In the resulting scramble to keep a lid on things, Simon risks alienating himself from his closest friends…
Everything here is so deftly handled. There are engaging performances from all concerned (look out for Tony Hale as well-meaning, but totally hapless teacher, Mr Worth); there’s a fresh lively look to the cinematography, a zingy soundtrack and a couple of scenes that are genuinely affecting – I find myself welling up at two key points. Robinson is perfect in the title role and Logan Miller does a great job of depicting the nerdish and extremely needy Martin, the kid who all the others make an effort to avoid and who is handed the film’s most toe-curling scene.
Best of all, this doesn’t come across as some forty -year-old writer’s idea of what teenagers are all about. It nails them perfectly and manages to be effortlessly entertaining – and informative – in the process. Result.
So, the moral of this story is, I suppose, always take a trailer with a large pinch of salt, otherwise you could just end up missing a treat.
Love, Simon is just such a treat. Don’t miss it.