2018 seems to be a year of dynamic change. With many people continually implementing backwards thinking, others have begun to take their own leaps forward to push towards a culture of acceptance and openness. With forward thinking filmography like “Black Panther,” “The Shape of Water,” and now “Love, Simon,” a story that revolves around a young boy discovering that his secret is shared by another. He attempts to connect with him in a love letter-like format until an unexpected foil begins to confront his secret identity.
2017’s sprinkles of change seem to have seeped into 2018 as a year of revolutionary change. Greg Berlanti’s “Love, Simon” appears to be another forward-thinking creation that rewards those who feel marginalized by societal constraints. It’s an improvised fantasy driven teen drama that is giving inspiration to those who haven’t accepted their sexuality just yet in a rousingly joyous fashion.
With that uplifting sentiment out of the way, “Love, Simon” is a fantastically put together, John Hughes-like film that embraces homosexuality in a way that isn't overly serious or self consciously shamed. Rather than those things, Berlanti manifests a film that uses Albertalli’s novel to provide a sense of vocal embracement to those who need to know that being gay doesn’t make you different from everyone else. As Emily (Jennifer Garner), Simon’s (Nick Robinson) mother, states in the film “you are still you.” Being gay shouldn't be seen as a life transferring moment unless the individual chooses it to be. A thematic message that resonated with me in more ways than one as someone who only barely embraced his sexual confusion with enthusiastic confidence, as Simon (Nick Robinson) says “Let’s ride this bravery train as long as it can go.”
That is the powerful statement being made throughout this film, which may be more potent than any sentiment made by emotionally powerful films like “Moonlight’ and “Call Me by Your Name.” While those films are empowering, they focus more upon the marginalization of homosexuality by showcasing the conflict that they have to face, but “Love, Simon” attempts to normalize homosexuality in a way that isn’t insulting but rather enthusiastically charming. The screenplay reads like a John Hughes teen drama/comedy in which our kids have treated authentically but not over the top gratuitous like that of “Edge of Seventeen” which feels as if we’re depicting teenagers a little far more extreme than we should be. “Love, Simon” takes more inspiration from Netflix shows like “13 Reasons Why” and provides an authentic but charming view of teenagers as far as stylistically.
The tone of those two projects are the contrary of differences in which “13 Reasons Why” is an impactful dissertation of the consequences from suicide and mistreatment of others, while “Love, Simon” is far more focused on lifting its audience up with a cathartic exhale of appreciation for those who choose to embrace who they are. Though there is a lack of consequences for the films impromptu antagonist because of this roaring upliftment, “Love, Simon” still feels effortlessly mature. It’s a polar opposite in tone, but a universal message that even homophobes can understand in the embracement of one’s self. The screenplay also never asks us to view Simon (Nick Robinson) as lesser than us as if we should feel sorry for his unchosen sexuality. Rather, the screenplay asks us to resonate with the awkwardness and self-inflicted humor of his situation like that of Cameron Frye from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
The direction of this film is simplistically profound in the sense of how Berlanti’s instruction of the cinematographer to capture Simon’s (Nick Robinson) everyday rituals as usual and nothing different than any of ours. Nick Robinson, himself, provides the same depiction of his character in which he’s so desperately attempting to remain as normal as possible until he begins to embrace himself in an uplifting format. The performance harkens back to Berlanti’s direction in which he’s attempting to paint a canvas of normality for a subject that in 2018 still feels like everyone’s hushed secret. It’s a brilliantly elegant form of storytelling that works perfectly with the screenplay provided.
The balance of performances given is also something worth mentioning in which Garner and Duhamel provide some excellent performances that are subliminally powerful. They, like the rest of the performances, are never the focus but are given enough significance to become memorable and necessary to Simon’s (Nick Robinson) growth. Nick Robinson is fantastic in this performance as he can encapsulate a vast array of emotions and yet continues to feel approachable no matter his emotional torment. He’s endlessly charming and incredibly inspiring, a performance that has the enormous potential of becoming something symbolizing that of a proverbial superhero in which his character can become that beckon of inspiration for those lacking filmatic representation.
“Love, Simon” is another moment of change in the realm of filmmaking that seems to be something remarkably impactful. The story can seem a bit familiar, and the lack of consequences seems a bit dreamlike, but the overall impact of this effortlessly charming story seems to be limitless. Though the box office may not represent this change at the end of the day, the societal progression towards openness and embracement made by my generation and the ones before us seems to be something that cannot be simply blocked by political agendas and hateful religious fanatics. “Love, Simon” is another step towards filmmaking being able to provide platforms for silenced voices, another takeaway that we all are different which should unify us and not divide us. We like Simon (Nick Robinson) can continue to exhale as the voices of the obscure are finally being heard on the overreaching stages of the silver screen. A unifying message that is magnificently rejoicing.