This teenage rom-com by Greg Berlanti is largely like every other single rom-com you have watched but with one twist: the title character Simon (Nick Robinson) is gay. Love, Simon based on the book: Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli; tells the story of ‘in-the-closet’ Simon who is outed when his emails with an anonymous gay schoolmate are leaked.
LGBT cinema – as small as that category is – often tells stories of heartbreak and trauma alongside an intense love affair, it can rarely be described as a light-hearted, fluffy rom-com. That is where ‘Love, Simon’ breaks down walls. Does it follow a lot of the traditional rom-com tropes? Yes. It did have a few aww-worthy and many cringey groan-inducing moments, that I would have eaten up ten years ago. Essentially it’s been done before but that’s the point.
For years, the LGBT community will have watched coming of age teen films that will have not have represented them, and occasionally included them as an afterthought in the role of ‘sassy gay best friend’- never a title character and certainly not a romantic lead. And that is why this film and representation in films is important.
My main issue is some scenes did feel lazy & taken straight from rom-coms past. Simon sending a public invitation to ‘Blue’, waiting with a cheering crowd – hope fading – only for Blue to show up at the final moment is a mirror image of Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed. That and the fact much of the ensemble cast gives a very stilted performance with Robinson, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel really stealing the show. But as I have forgiven equally bad acting in beloved rom-coms, I can forgive this cast. Overall, I did truly enjoy this film and it left me feeling warming and fuzzy.
I went to see this at Cineworld’s Secret Screening and I have to admit to cackling as I watched men, that define themselves by their masculinity and heteronormativity, realise that they had been tricked into watching an LGBT film. I have to say that I was impressed that despite the posturing after leaving the cinema, none of the audience walked out during the film as is being reported of happening at other screenings across the country. It’s incredibly sad that in this day and age some people can’t see past their bias and vile prejudice.