Love, Simon movie review: call me by your screen name

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Love, Simon green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

A sweetly old-fashioned romance about a young man who falls in love over email… with another young man. Tender, funny, sometimes heartbreaking, enormously human and honest.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, female coscreenwriter, male protagonist
(learn more about this)

High-school senior Simon (a charming Nick Robinson: The 5th Wave) has “a totally perfect normal life… except I have a huge ass secret.” He’s gay, he hasn’t told anyone yet, and it’s really starting to weigh him down. So when a fellow student, “Blue,” comes out anonymously on their school’s group blog, Simon emails him — also anonymously — and they strike up a correspondence in which they share their anxieties and their hopes… and Simon starts to fall a little bit in love with his pen pal. Is there a more sweetly old-fashioned sort of romance imaginable? This kind of wholesomeness is probably exactly what the first mainstream gay-teen movie needed, a reminder to the bigots that being gay is not primarily about the mechanics of sex any more than being straight is, that it’s about feelings and a desire for human connection.

Of course Simon has no idea who is on the other end of those emails, and much of this tender, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking story is about him trying to solve that mystery. Much of the rest of it revolves around a cruel fellow student (Logan Miller: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) who stumbles across Simon’s secret and blackmails Simon over it, forcing Simon into a corner that causes him to do some cruel things himself to his friends. And so Love, Simon is as much a condemnation of forced secrecy as it is about the joy of giving that up (as Simon will eventually do), of learning how to be yourself, and of learning to let people accept you as you are. The humanity and the honesty of it all is ecumenical: almost everyone has something about themselves that makes them “feel weird,” as Simon’s best friend, Leah (Katherine Langford, also charming) laments, and Simon’s predicament works as a metaphor for the awkwardness of adolescence for everyone, without ever diminishing the distinctiveness of his situation, either.

Best of all, Love, Simon renders its confused protagonist as totally ordinary and normal, and not defined by his sexuality. After a hundred more movies like this one, we’ll be on the road to never having to qualify our stories in this way again at all.

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Sat, Apr 07, 2018 5:25am

I enjoyed it too. It wasn’t a GREAT movie, it had some of the usual flaws that teen movies do (23 doesn’t look 18), but given the subject matter, I kind of liked it for its averageness, y’know?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  cinderkeys
Sat, Apr 07, 2018 6:14pm

We are never going to see age-appropriate teens onscreen.

reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Apr 07, 2018 8:49pm

We do, although it’s really rare. _20th Century Women_ , for instance, and … um …

Yeah, it’s REALLY rare.

Michelle Kirkwood
Michelle Kirkwood
reply to  cinderkeys
Sun, Jun 03, 2018 10:00am

The thing is, though, there are people who don’t always look their actual age in real life—-you have some people who look like teens well into their 20s, and some who look mature enough to be,in their mid-20s, but are actually still just 18-years old. And 23 is still young enough to remember 18 –we’re only talking about a 5-year difference here.

Sun, Apr 08, 2018 3:52pm

I also liked that (SPOILER) the big romantic gesture failed. Although possibly it only failed because that guy was a villain? Regardless, encouraging guys to make those gestures as a way of asking a girl out sucks. It puts pressure on the girl to say yes and humiliates the guy if she says no. Which could all be avoided with a casual ask.