You do not have to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community to enjoy the new romantic comedy, “Love, Simon.” The movie, which comes out March 16, is based on the 2015 novel “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.” I have not read the novel and cannot say how authentic the film was to it, but as its own entity, “Love, Simon” is a triumph.
The heartfelt film follows 17-year-old Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), an average high schooler with a loving family and tight-knight friend group. But he’s hiding a massive secret: He’s gay. Simon’s life takes a suspenseful turn when he discovers, through an anonymous blog post, that there’s another closeted gay student at his high school who goes by “Blue.”
Simon contacts Blue through a fake email account and the two quickly become friends. Sadly, Simon gets blackmailed by another student who forces Simon to set him up with his friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp). As the film continues, Simon must navigate the threats and his suspicious friends while also trying to uncover Blue’s identity.
The film effectively builds suspense as to who Blue is and leaves the viewer guessing until the last minute. “Love, Simon” addresses how difficult it is to come out, regardless of how “tolerant” your environment may be. Director Greg Berlanti deals with this sensitive subject matter perfectly by handling the story in a comedic and entertaining manner, while maintaining the right amount of seriousness and respect.
Throughout most of the film, I laughed thanks to Simon’s outlook on life, including funny narration and laugh-out-loud daydreaming sequences, like when he imagines his “out” life in college. Hilarious characters, like drama teacher Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell), further add to the film’s appeal. Not only does she have great lines like, “I was an extra on the ‘Lion King,’ they do not pay me enough for this crap” but she’s also a true ally, especially when confronting students who bully Simon.
There were also moments in the film when I was on the verge of tears, like when Simon’s dad, Jack (Josh Duhamel), shows his son how much he loves and accepts him no matter what.
I was skeptical of how Robinson would perform, as I wasn’t impressed by his acting in “Jurassic World.” Thankfully, my preconceived judgment was proven false by his genuine portrayal of Simon.
This is the first romantic comedy with a gay protagonist to be made by a major Hollywood studio, and it’s about time. After years of hiding in the closet of the indie film world, it’s refreshing to see a non-stereotypical gay protagonist given the respect and mainstream attention he deserves. “Love, Simon” is a beautiful, wholesome story that deserves everyone’s attention.