In an age of painfully average straight romance movies, the LGBTQ community has finally reached its goal of having a painfully average gay romance movie.
“Love Simon” is a coming of age story about accepting one’s sexuality. Title character Simon spends the majority of the film searching for his anonymous pen pal Blue, who he begins to fall in love with. It isn’t until he’s blackmailed by a classmate, who threatens to out Simon, that his life begins to change.
Part of the appeal of this movie, for me at least, was the idea of coming out. It’s a scary experience that I think the film captures extremely well. At several points in the film, Simon struggles with even saying the word “gay” which was a subtle touch. There was also the notion of people treating him differently after his outing as if Simon was just the embodiment of his sexuality. This is an absolutely spectacular commentary on how the LGBTQ community is perceived via heteronormativity.
The actual romance between Simon and Blue is nice as well. The two banter and exchange stories through pretty realistic dialogue. However, I couldn’t help but feel there could have been more to it. At several points, it felt as if Simon was falling in love more with the mystery of Blue, rather than the person he was actually speaking to.
The reveal of Blue’s identity could have also been handled with more grace as it felt rushed to me. He is highlighted as a character five minutes before the end of the movie, and I feel that for a film that’s marketing itself as a romantic comedy, his characterization could have been more than just stating his love for Halloween Oreos.
Simon’s friends could have been fleshed out more as characters, as they take up a good percentage of screen time. They just felt like what a forty-year-old writer would imagine teenagers to act like, and would often fall flat when delivering jokes or trying to progress their subplot.
There was also the notion of internalized homophobia that I wish had been fleshed out more. Simon encounters harassment from his peers but it never feels genuine, mostly because the extent and quality of the harassment aren’t pared down to any reality and comes across as rather childish. Compared to the rest of the film it almost feels cartoon-ish in how out of place the harassment is, especially when the film already addressed Simon’s father’s internalized notions of masculinity in a much more grounded fashion.
Yet, despite many bumps and bruises, “Love Simon” is a nice movie. It isn’t one I would pay to see in the theater again, but perhaps as a rental. It’s a harmless flick without much of a backbone, but the camera work is nice and there were a few touching moments. The fact that this is an LGBTQ romance is interesting as we don’t get a lot of representation in media outside of pandering. But other than that, this film isn’t anything that hasn’t been done a million times over.
“Love Simon” is playing in RC and Lexington theaters.