Review: ‘Love, Simon’ is touching, yet hilarious

Love, Simon tells the story of Simon Spier, a suburban teenager living a “totally normal life,” with the exception of one big secret: Nobody knows he is gay. Based on the best-selling novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the movie explores Simon’s chaotic coming-out journey as he falls in love online with another closeted student from his school, who anonymously goes by Blue. However, when Simon is unexpectedly outed by another student at the school who found his correspondences with Blue, he’s forced to deal with the repercussions.

Nick Robinson (left), plays Simon Spier, a teenage boy who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. Katherine Langford (right), plays his supportive best friend, Leah Burke. Photo from IMDB.

Nick Robinson offers an incredible performance in his portrayal of Simon. From awkward encounters with straight friends to painful attempts at flirting with guys, Robinson’s perfect comedic timing captures the awkwardness of Simon’s tale. He simultaneously captures the emotional torment that accompanies hiding behind a facade for years, and the insecurity and self-doubt in a character struggling to admit his sexuality even to himself.

Director Greg Berlanti successfully fosters an extremely lighthearted and comedic atmosphere throughout the film, to complement the script written by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker. Comedy played out perfectly in the film, particularly with one-liners and monologues delivered by Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell), the drama teacher. The audience roared with laughter with every joke, even applauding after several retorts to bullies from Ethan (Clark Moore), the school’s only openly gay student. Despite the serious subject matter, the movie never loses this sense of comedy.

The film’s original soundtrack, curated primarily by Jack Antonoff, the pop mastermind behind some of Taylor Swift and Lorde’s most successful songs, is deserving of praise. Currently the lead singer and songwriter of Bleachers and member of Fun., Antonoff helped write original songs for the film for singers Troye Sivan and MØ, as well as his own band, Bleachers. The film’s choice to include original music signals its creators’ understanding of both the story they are writing, as well as their intended audience. These artists are known for their uncanny ability to capture the nostalgic yearning that accompanies a life in suburbia, and these songs prove their continued ability to evoke a similar cinematic response. The songs fit perfectly into the movie, and nothing feels forced.

However, a few directing choices in the movie do seem strangely out of place with the spirit of the film, requiring the audience to suspend its sense of disbelief. For example, Simon’s separate conversations with his parents after coming out seem slightly overdramatized. Additionally, toward the end of the movie, a scene involves an extremely large number of students from the school cheering Simon on as he waits for Blue to reveal himself. In this surreal departure from the rest of the film, the audience must almost completely abandon reality to appreciate the ongoing scene.

Ultimately, however, Love, Simon is an important step forward in LGBTQ visibility for the film industry. Despite embracing a few stereotypical teen romance tropes, the movie effectively mixes LGBTQ themes with an extremely mainstream template. As far as approachability goes, Love, Simon offers something for everyone in the audience, unlike other niche movies that have been released in recent years. The movie is being distributed to many countries that did not show similar films like Moonlight and Call Me by Your Name, making the film somewhat innovative for the film industry, all while being admittedly ordinary. Love, Simon will certainly serve as a beacon of inspiration and relatability to LGBTQ youth around the world.