Coming-of-age stories are a staple in the indie and teen genres, and Love Simon certainly does a good job when compared to others – but in the year that Lady Bird was released, Love Simon has tough competition.
Lady Bird so expertly touched on the struggles of growing up and finding oneself, and the comparison is unfortunate since Love Simon deals more with the internal struggle of coming out.
It’s an admirable film, in the sense that it’s meaningful to teenagers to see themselves represented on screen. As gender binaries are slowly being accepted as more fluid in the modern world, films like Love Simon (and the book it’s based on) play an important role in shaping new inclusive narratives.
But, as a film, Love Simon has quite a few misses. It’s not because of the actors, the production or even the story. Everything about this movie is sweet. Maybe that’s the problem.
LGBTQi issues aren’t sweet. They’re human rights issues that require robust discussions, and it makes Love Simon feel almost watered down, especially in an era where these discussions are more prevalent.
Capturing the zeitgeist in a teenage romance film just doesn’t feel like enough. That being said, Love Simon is an entry point into the realm of identity discovery. A miscommunication between parents with children (that aren’t heterosexual and CIS) can often be contributed to the fact that people are often unsure how to open the floor to discuss sexuality with their children.
If you’re high-school aged, in a safe space where you feel you’re ready to come out, and know your parents will support you, taking them to see something like Love Simon is a great way to partially explain what you are going through.
Unfortunately, not all families are that loving, especially when it comes to children using identifying markers like being gay.
Love Simon gives hope, but it doesn’t represent the majority of teens still figuring out their identity. That said, Love Simon shows how coming out is still met with shame – unfortunate when you consider how representation has changed over the years.
In the film, Simon starts communicating with another classmate via email about living as closeted gay boy in high school. As Simon tries to discover who the stranger is, he not only gets blackmailed by other classmates, he’s ultimately outed by a classmate.
Love Simon has a happy ending however, and you’ll leave the theatre with a smile on your face – which is great.
But know that there are other films like Moonlight, Paris is Burning and The Life and Death of Marsha P Johnson you should watch as well to get to grips with many other stories – not just that of a Simon.
Cast: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner
Director: Greg Berlanti
Classification: 13 L