Love, Simon SPOILER-FREE Review

Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes 

Rating: PG-13

Directed by: Greg Berlanti 

Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner

"Everyone deserves a great love story," says Simon, the main character of Love, Simon, played by Nick Robinson. It's sad to say that, with the hundreds of movies that come out every year, we have only a finite number of gay love stories. We've had a few movies about gay people finding themselves, such as Moonlight, but there are barely any regular coming-of-age romantic comedies about gay kids, and that is incredibly unfortunate. Luckily, we now have Love, Simon. It comes from Greg Berlanti, who is openly gay himself, who has made a name for himself running uber-successful comic book shows on television such as Arrow and The Flash. He has also produced some movies including Green Lantern and Pan. With Love, Simon, Berlanti directs his third feature film, following The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy and Life as We Know It. I have not seen his previous movies, but Berlanti has done a phenomenal job with his television series. So since I knew Berlanti more as a TV guy, and because I wasn't familiar with his movie directing style (nor were his previous films huge critical successes, having a 64% and a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes respectively), I wasn't sure how Love, Simon was going to turn out. However, it's a fantastic movie. Berlanti does a phenomenal job delivering on a film that entirely emotionally hooks you.

In general, I'm a big fan of teenage coming-of-age films. Whether its The Edge of Seventeen or Lady Bird, I really buy into these movies and I get invested in them. The end of high school-- looking at colleges or other post-school options-- age is such a universally relatable one, and it is a part of our lives that everyone goes through in one form or another. I don't think Love, Simon is quite as good of a film as the ones I previously mentioned, but it hits all the right notes you want a coming-of-age comedic melodrama to hit. There's something extra special about this being a story about a boy struggling with his sexuality, and scared to come out to his friends and family. There's the usual teen angst you're used to, but then there's another whole component that makes it even more intriguing. I myself am not gay, so this is a process of someone's life that I don't personally know. The movie does a great job of demonstrating how straight people don't have a moment where they come out to their family. It's not something heterosexual individuals have to worry about, so it's an entire aspect of the human experience I myself, and many others watching the movie, have never had to deal with. So to see that added level of anxiety for Simon, on top of all the regular teenage shit, makes me appreciate the character all the more and makes me appreciate the film for taking on a different story we don't get to see too often. 

The performances are all top notch. Nick Robinson is fantastic in the leading role. He brings so many layers to the character of Simon Spier. He's a completely relatable, average guy. But he's also struggling with something you (from a straight perspective) could never fully understand. The nuance and subtlety he brings to the character is just excellent. Katherine Langford of 13 Reasons Why fame is great as Simon's best friend, Leah. Their chemistry is radiant, and their relationship takes twists and turns that feel completely natural and real. Tony Hale is hysterical as the school's vice principal. I was afraid his shtick would get old, but it never does. He's consistently funny, playing on a lot of the same style of comedy he does in Arrested Development. I'm a huge fan of him on that show, so it's great to see it played out here. The rest of the supporting cast is also fantastic. If I had to state some negatives, it did feel a little too dramatic at times. They do harp on some coming-of-age movie cliches, which didn't necessarily bother me as much as it made the film not feel wholly original. They try a little too hard to get you to cry by the end, and while I was definitely feeling emotional, there were a couple instances where it felt like they were trying too hard for it. But, in the long run, these negatives are inconsequential, considering how excellently made and profoundly powerful the film is as a whole. 

Overall, Love, Simon is a fantastic movie that I wasn't expecting to love as much as I did. I was expecting an average coming-of-age film, but what I got was an emotionally riveting movie. The performances are outstanding, especially from Nick Robinson and Katherine Langford. Tony Hale provides some great comedic relief. It does a great job of telling a story we don't get to see too often on film, and I really appreciated that. It took the craft and format of a typical teenage coming-of-age movie, but infused it with an atypical story. And a really important story too, due to gay love stories being criminally underrepresented in movies. It's witty, charming, self-aware, and emotional, resulting in a laugh-cry double punch from Greg Berlanti. I will never again doubt his directing abilities, after seeing what he did with this movie. While it does kind of push the emotion of the story a little bit too much by the end, that doesn't stop Love, Simon from being a fantastic movie that absolutely wowed me. I don't think it will end up in my top ten of the year by the end of 2018, but it is a film I certainly enjoyed seeing, and one that I highly recommend people go out and see. 


What do you think? Have you seen Love, Simon? If not, are you planning on seeing it? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nathanael Moln├ír
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