Love, Simon review: The revolution of gay people becoming mainstream ★★★★
There are hundreds of films about the lives of LGBT people, should you search persistently enough.
In the past 18 months we’ve seen Moonlight, God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name achieve commercial and critical success, helping tear down the idea that gay stories cannot be money-spinning hits.
In Love, Simon we have the most significant step in that journey: a polished, fluffy, simple teen tale of a teenager coming of age. And it just so happens the protagonist for that is his sexuality.
Simon, 17, is the handsome son of two very middle-class parents.
They live in a detatched suburban home and Simon drives to high school, picking up three friends and four coffees on the way. He’s popular. He’s bright. He’s utterly un-objectionable. Who wouldn’t want to be Simon’s friend?
“I’m just like you,” he declares in the opening scene. “But I have a secret.”
Simon hasn’t plucked up the courage to come out to anyone, including his parents, friends or peers at school.
On a mission to understand his sexuality he strikes up an anonymous email exchange with another boy. He doesn’t know anything about them – other than they too are in his school.
The pair are hidden by email aliases, with Simon’s prospective lover known only as ‘Blue.’
Simon attempts to search out Blue from among the hundreds of guys at his American high school, capturing the feeling so many closeted gay teens experience as they try to work out if anyone else is like them out there.
Simon screws up multiple friendships by building a web of lies to disguise his sexuality, and the film doesn’t shy away from confronting the fact it’s not just a gay character’s feelings that matter.
Coming to terms with being gay is tough as a teen, yes, but there is nothing unusual about struggling to understand yourself in adolescence and many of Simon’s friends – the supporting cast – are finding themselves too.
Those used to the usual radicalism of LGBT cinema will not find their fix in Love, Simon, with its intentional lack of anger and embracing of the mainstream.
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It is notably cluttered with product placement, too. If you don’t leave the cinema with the message of love and tolerance and overcoming teen angst, then you’ll definitely leave realising you need to buy some f***ing Oreos.
Usually crowbarred corporate references would tar a film, but the fact big brands want to associate themselves with a gay teen’s story shows how far attitudes have come.
Love, Simon is radical in its own significant way: putting the story of a gay kid falling in love firmly in the mainstream.
The very fact that the big Easter school holidays blockbuster is a same-sex teen love story shows how far attitudes have progressed.
This is the gay coming out film generations have needed. And it will, no doubt, change the lives of those gay teens today who see themselves reflected on the big screen and are told it’s OK, and normal, to be you.