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

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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