In this more politically-correct age, there is a lot of call for minority representation in film. As a general rule I encourage this, of course it can get too far and cross the line into being preachy and pretentious. Casting minorities for the sake of it is just as derivative as deliberately not casting them, not to say that certain stories don’t require certain ethnicities but that is besides the point.
Love, Simon then. For the longest time in cinema LGBT issues have been skirted around or made into overblown statements so I was looking forward to this, and hoping it would be a step in the right direction.
Simon Splice is a regular American high school student. Except he’s hiding one big secret: he is gay. When he discovers a mystery student post on the school site, he begins corresponding with this kindred spirit, all the while trying to juggle his own struggles, while figuring out who the mysterious ‘Blue’ is.
One positive straight out of the gate is the way the theme is handled. The set-up and execution is similar to many high school movies, the lead is a young, attractive male with young, attractive friends but the fact he is gay is established from the outset and real effort is made to make his sexuality as normalised as possible.
There are a few missteps, the slightly cartoonish other gay student could have been more toned-down, although he does get his moments of character development, the slightly clueless vice-principal also strays into cringe territory.
At the centre of this movie is a set of well-developed characters. Simon (played by Nick Robinson) is an extremely sympathetic character, he makes mistakes during the film, for sure, but this mistakes just make him more human, and more believable as a character. Then there’s his friends: Leah, Abbie and Nick (played by Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. respectively) add an extra dimension to Simon, somehow, forming a support blanket around him, all the while oblivious to his secret. They are slightly stereotypical, admittedly, Nick is the sporty one, Abbie is from a broken home and Leah is in love with the oblivious Simon. Fairly standard stuff, really although not lingered on to much as to make it seem as if it’s their only character traits.
There’s also a very multi-layered performance by Logan Miller as Martin, who you will spend 90% of the film wanting to punch in the face, if you’re anything like me, which was the aim for his character, I hope, otherwise that just shows that I need anger management.
The message of the film is one that is well-delivered, if you’re familiar with the teen movie setup familiar but the themes and characters refreshing in part and textbook at other times. Still it’s well handled and the build as to who ‘Blue’ was must have been successful, as I was on the edge of my seat, wanting to know who it was by the end, begging for an answer and not an ambiguous ending.
The ending itself feels like a triumph, an extremely uplifting full stop to a story that takes you in a rollercoaster ride of emotions in its tightly scripted characters and plot points, it takes a cliche setting and does something new with genuinely likeable characters. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a feel-good movie with a big heart and a worthy message.