Sunday 15 July 2018

Love, Simon ★★★★☆

In recent years, LGBT cinema has been picking up real steam with mainstream audiences. After the enormous success – financially, critically and on the awards circuit – of Call Me By Your Name, we are finally in a time when Hollywood has realised that cinema doesn’t have to be totally straight. Sure, there are still niggling issues – the media caught wind of how both Thor: Ragnarok and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opted against using filmed gay references and left them on the cutting room floor, but we’re certainly getting into a new territory for cinema. The absolutely fantastic Love, Simon is another milestone in these historic times for LGBT film, as it is the first film by a major Hollywood studio to focus on a gay teenage romance. The first one. In 2018…

As the film’s marketing so accurately states, everyone deserves a great love story. But for our hero, the 17-year-old Simon (Nick Robinson), it's a little more complicated. He hasn't told his family or friends that he's gay. One day, Simon’s friend Leah (Katherine Langford) informs him about an online confession of a closeted gay student at their high school, known only by the pseudonym "Blue". Hiding behind the name "Jacques", Simon begins communicating with him via email. This turns into something of a mystery whodunit, but without the dun. A “whoisit”, perhaps? But along the way, Simon must embark on a terrifying and often hilarious adventure of self-discovery, delivering the greatest coming of age high school story since John Hughes was doing the rounds.

Firstly, we’ve got to talk about Nick Robinson. Known presumably to most audiences as one of the youngsters from Jurassic World, Robinson puts in a thoroughly convincing and engrossing performance here that could well earn him awards recognition. This lad could go far. Love, Simon is entirely his film, stealing every scene he’s in and even putting in a pretty good attempt to steal scenes he isn’t in! That’s not to say the rest of the cast aren’t superb too – the film’s ensemble cast is bursting with talent. Well-written, directed and, as discussed, acted, this is a masterpiece of the LGBT genre and one that could become a classic in the youth/coming-of-age circuit. It deserves the hype, the acclaim and the millions of dollars it earned at the box office.

But unfortunately, it’s not quite plain sailing for LGBT film just yet. I live in a very small town and am lucky enough to be the programmer of our cinema. I decided, upon the film’s release, to give Love, Simon a handful of screenings. Looking back at the previous 12 months of our cinema admissions, Love, Simon came in as our lowest earner. Only 5 tickets sold in total. The 5 who came absolutely loved the film, but LGBT cinema has always struggled in this town – perhaps due to an ageing population with a rather “of another generation” worldview. But these figures act as a rather cruel reminder of a great number of people’s lack of acceptance of gay cinema. There’s a long way to go. But the mere fact that key filmmakers and stars are finally getting well-and-truly involved in delivering these stories is fantastic, and I say – the more, the better! 

This film is a belter and one I cannot recommend enough. It’s not quite Call Me By Your Name quality which docks it one star, but still, this is a remarkable film full of charming brilliance. Love, Simon is a truly terrific little film and one that absolutely deserves a spot in your collection. 

Sam Love

Love, Simon at CeX

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