Because it looked like – and very much is – one of those stories in which a young protagonist has to wrestle with and ultimately confront a very personal issue; it’s big drama, complemented by playful humor – and it all feels very sincere.
And those are the kinds of movies that resonate with me – the ones with relatable and likable characters that have real struggles and for whom the audience roots, because he or she deserves as much.
And “Love, Simon” is all of that… and so much more.
“I’m just like you. For the most part, my life is totally normal…” high school senior Simon (Nick Robinson) narrates, to introduce himself.
We learn about his high school sweetheart parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel); his chef wanna-be little sister Nora (Talitha Eliana Bateman); his friends, two of whom he’s “known since pretty much the beginning of time.”
And he continues, “… I have a totally perfectly normal life, except I have one huge-ass secret…”.
Simon is gay. And he hasn’t told anyone; he’s barely told himself.
Simon’s friend Leah (Katherine Langford, whom you may recognize from “13 Reasons Why”) FaceTimes with him to ask if he’s seen the latest post on the school’s social media page, about “the closeted gay kid.”
Panic! But that eventually fades when Simon realizes someone else has the same secret, and he sees an opportunity express himself to this other student – without either of them knowing the other’s identity.
And as Simon – disguising himself as Jacques – and “Blue” cathartically message each other, it’s clear that Simon is starting to understand and gain confidence in who he is.
But if you’re familiar with stories like this, you know that Simon’s secret not only will be found out but also will be in danger of being exposed before he’s ready to tell it. As if this internal conflict couldn’t get any more complicated, right?
“Love, Simon” is so good and satisfying on so many levels.
The montage of Simon’s friends announcing to their parents that they’re heterosexual is hilarious and effectively drives home just how silly it is that being straight is the established “default.”
These characters all are amazing: Simon is the good, friendly kid who not only gets along with but is able to joke with his parents; pals Leah, Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) are the easy-going and understanding comrades that any high school kid would lucky to call friends; Vice Principal Mr. Worth (Tony Hale) tries so hard to be hip that he actually sort of succeeds while eliciting tremendous laughs; drama teacher Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell) offers up some humor of her own and delivers one of the biggest mic-drop speeches ever. Eh-ver!
There’s a little bit of mystery here, as Blue’s email responses to Simon are continually read in a different voice each time Simon thinks he’s figured out who it is on the other side of these messages. It keeps us guessing, and the anonymity nevertheless allows Simon to really get to know this person – and himself.
And it’s no secret that Simon’s secret will come out, but it’s the reactions here that are important.
They run the gamut – from the typically ignorant and cruel, which was Simon’s fear and understandably why he felt the need to keep his identity under wraps for so long; to the tear-inducing (guilty!) and empathetic.
It’s not easy for this kid, but that’s what makes his story so endearing. You get it, and you feel every ounce of his anxiety and apprehension.
There is so much to appreciate about “Love, Simon.” It’s full of real emotion and uncertainly and isolation – and acceptance.
I was in a packed theater, and the audience at one point exploded with resounding applause, which is a testament to this flick and its ability to affect viewers. And that’s really the whole point.
You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel. You also can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.