Dir. Greg Berlanti
Starring: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Keiynan Lonsdale, and Tony Hale.
Greg Berlanti’s cinematic career may have gotten off to a bumpy start with 2010s Life As We Know It, but since then he’s gone from strength to strength on the small screen. He’s been the main creative force behind CW’s DC universe, producing Arrow, The Flash, Legends Of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, as well as working on shows such as Blindspot, and Riverdale. His return to the big screen sees him adapting the novel “Simon Vs the Homo Sapien Agenda.” I’m a fan of Berlanti’s TV universe but I’ve never read the book. I do know that Berlanti applies the same formula to all his shows, every episode has to have action, laughs, and a whole lot of heart. That formula is on full display in Love, Simon.
Love, Simon is the story of Simon Spier, a normal high schooler who enjoys hanging out with his friends, listening to music, and loves his family. He has a secret though, he’s gay. Whilst struggling to deal with how to approach his sexuality another kid at the school anonymously comes out on social media. Simon starts to privately email the individual calling himself Blue, using the pseudonym Jacques. As their online relationship begins to bloom, Simon starts to fall for his new pen pal, whilst trying to figure out who the person on the other side of the keyboard actually is. Along the way trying to figure out how to reveal his secret to his friends and family.
The film is completely warm, and charming. Berlanti balances the laughs and feels perfectly. The years of TV have honed his skills, and he takes his audience on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. The characters are relatable, believeable, and immensely likeable. The casting is spot on, and by using some of the best young actors working on TV today, the friendships all feel honest, and there is a real sense of chemistry between them. When it first started, I was worried that the style of the film was cleaving to close to the generically perfect teenage life, but Berlanti uses this to show us the Hetero-normal life that Simon is living, and makes us feel both Simon’s dread at the idea of coming out, believing that everything he loves will change if he does, and the unfairness of the situation. If at times the film does feel too cookie cutter, it’s to serve a heart-warming story with a great message.
The direction is good throughout. Berlanti recalls recent coming-of-age story Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and rom-com 500 Days of Summer, balancing his teen drama with hilarious fantasy sequences. It’s a refreshing story as well. It’s something not seen too often, a great teen rom-com, viewed through different eyes. It’s incredibly refreshing. The performances are all good as well. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel make the most of their supportive parents roles, whilst Simon’s group of friends are a charismatic bunch. Nick Robinson though is fantastic. He carries the film incredibly well, bringing both the warmth and charm to the character of Simon, and makes him feel 100% real. I have to mention the soundtrack as well, executively produced by Jack Antonoff, it’s great, and actually seems like the songs teenagers listen to.
I was was completely charmed by this movie. It manipulated me in all the right ways. I laughed, I cried, and felt every moment of tension. It’s a fantastic coming-of-age story, combined with a great coming out story. It’s about a character finding his identity, and has a brilliant central message. Berlanti has owned his own corner of the small screen, here’s hoping that he continues to branch out and make movies as likeable as this one.