Susan Granger’s review of “Love, Simon” (Fox 2000: 20th Century-Fox)
This new, upbeat romantic comedy has already broken records: it’s the first major studio PG-13 wide-release, playing in multiplexes, as opposed to art houses, to revolve around an openly homosexual adolescent.
Based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 YA novel, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” the narrative introduces popular, 17 year-old high school senior Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), who ruefully notes he’s never ‘the leading guy.’ Instead, he’s relegated to being ‘the best friend.’
So Simon decides: “I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story.”
Affable Simon lives in an idyllic Atlanta suburb with empathetic parents (Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel) and younger sister (Talitha Eliana Bateman), plus a trio of supportive pals (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.).
But Simon hasn’t ‘come out’ yet. His reluctance leaves him open to blackmail by a Drama Club classmate (Logan Miller) when his mysterious ‘virtual’ love interest is revealed.
“I’m supposed to be the one who decides when and where and who knows,” Simon responds.
It seems that Simon, utilizing the pseudonym ‘Jacques,’ has been corresponding on the school’s chat board with another anonymous student, dubbed ‘Blue,’ who is also gay. As suspense builds, Blue’s identity is kept secret until the sealed-with-a-kiss climax.
Adapted by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (TV’s “This is Us,” “About a Boy”), it’s directed by teen-savvy Greg Berlanti (TV’s “Dawson’s Creek,” “Brothers & Sisters”), who is quick to note: “There’s as many different LGBTQ experiences as there are different kinds of people…and, hopefully, this film makes it easier for them to tell their story.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Love, Simon” is a sweetly sincere, sensitive 7, a timely, yet different coming-of-age story.