AOTY 2018
Troye Sivan - Bloom
Aug 31, 2018
54
For the first half-hour of Love, Simon all I could think was "no one would care about this if he weren't gay." The hype for the release of this movie was huge, with many hailing it as the first LGBT teen romantic comedy (a statement about as accurate as Sam Smith declaring himself the first gay man to win an Oscar). It's mostly talk - Love, Simon spends the large part of its duration as a poorly-scripted coming-of-age film that shoots for 90s teen nostalgia but mostly reeks of privileged millennial angst (probably because that's the intended audience).

Our story follows Simon Spier, a closeted high school teen in an Atlanta suburb. The students at his school all visit a PostSecret-type website of rumors and anonymous confessions, and the main storyline revolves around Simon emailing with an anonymous male user who posts about struggling with being gay. The two, using pseudonyms, establish a flirty bond and encourage each other to come out in their respective circles. Naturally, Simon quickly develops feelings and begins to guess which of his classmates the other user may be.

Unfortunately, the film clumsily tackles his pursuits, sticking to a rinse-wash-repeat formula where Simon suspects someone near him of being the love interest, only for them to say or do something that implies they aren't gay. The sense of disappointment isn't easily conveyed, especially since the love interests are so one-dimensional it's hard to feel passionate about Simon being paired with any of them (although the good news is he - spoiler alert!! - winds up with the cutest one).

Simon himself doesn't do much better on the fleshed-out-characterization front, introducing himself as a perfectly normal student with "one big secret." We don't know what he wants to study in college, what his interests are - we mostly just know that he is gay. Rounding out his cast of friends are oblivious sidekick Leah, who has secretly harbored a crush on Simon for years, new girl Abby, whose romantic plotline occasionally eclipses that of our main character, and Nick, who seems to only be part of the group because Simon would look gay if he only hung out with girls he wasn't dating.

There's also Martin, the school theatre company's token heterosexual who has a penchant for embarrassing public displays and probably self-identifies as a "thespian." The writers aim to make him a quasi-villain but ultimately settle for a pettier, less-funny version of a high school Tobias Fünke (speaking of which, Anthony Hale aka Buster Bluth is also in this movie as the impossibly awkward vice principal who openly talks about his Tinder dates to the students).

Throughout the film there are cringe-y current pop culture references that are destined to age poorly, as well as many cutaway scenes of imagined scenarios in Simon's head. He vents about how it's unfair that straight people don't need to come to out of the closet, imagines each of his love interests at their desks replying to his emails, and eventually envisions himself fully out of the closet in college, complete with a dance routine to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." He ultimately snaps back to reality on that one, promising himself he won't be "THAT gay." Ha ha.

A lot of the time the plot inconsistencies are what render Love, SImon difficult to get into. What high school in 2018 hasn't had some kind of sensitivity training for LGBT students? Why do the parents (and the community at large) seem generally unconcerned about a website spreading vicious rumors and exposing dark secrets about their kids (including SImon)? Why is Simon's method of communication to his love interest so weird and antiquated? Do Gen Z's even know what email is?

But most of all, everything just seems so low stakes. Simon really doesn't have much to lose in coming out of the closet - he lives in an affluent town with progressive parents and a generally accepting high school (save for a few burnout bullies in the film's second half). He acknowledges all of this himself, but it doesn't make the character any more worthy of sympathy. If the consensus is that there still isn't enough LGBT representation in movies, is this really the kind of story that's crucial right now?

I can give the film a few compliments - the second half is overall much more enjoyable than the first, when Simon's sexuality as well as the fragileness of the coming out process take a somewhat darker tone. The young actors in general perform the script to the best of their ability, although I do wonder if they ever stopped to inform the director that no one their age actually talks like that. Ultimately though, Love, Simon is largely hype with little substance. At least it might open the door for more nuanced LGBT storytelling in the future.
5 Comments
Sep 2, 2018
Epic :,)
Dec 6, 2018
Hey I'm just reading this now and I have to say i think you missed the point. The reason he was afraid to come out was fear of change. Fear of change is something many gay kids have to deal with as there are very few parents who will be completely comfortable with this. Even in super liberal cities you're still seen as an oddity. The movie dealt with fear of the future more than tea act of coming out instead. Plus it focussed more on the nuances of the gay experience.
Dec 6, 2018
sure it could have been a super homophobe fest, but that isn't everyone's experience. Most kids have to deal with the smaller stuff. The "That's so gay." It was a movie made to reflect those experiences. Was it perfect? Hell no. But it was a movie made to show a very specific story that most of the public will never experience or understand.
Dec 7, 2018
As a former closeted high school kid in a relatively left-leaning town, I totally get Simon's struggle. My point is that if you compare this film to other recent LGBT films like Moonlight or Pariah, he has it WAY easier off, which decreases my emotional investment in the film as a viewer. "Fear of change" is real, but it's not like his parents were going to kick him out of the house or he was going to get beat up at school.
Dec 7, 2018
Does that mean Simon's story doesn't deserve to be told? No, and I do think there's a lot to be said about normalizing the average LGBT teen experience, but it's also not a story I find to be compelling or urgent, especially with LGBT films still trickling into the mainstream. The span of time surrounding my coming out process would have made for a super boring movie as well.
Liked By
Rate and review albums along with your friends. Create an account.
Also Reviewed By
frienderman
dyelir
76fex
JoaoSantos
BuffaloStaple
808thDimension
Midline
the13thbeach
Plats
Jaronmeister
zachthesnack
luna128
Tsareena
lemuriams
Zacattack0011
Popular Albums
Zayn - Icarus Falls
Zayn
Icarus Falls
Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want
Daughters
You Won't Get What You Want
Pusha T - Daytona
Pusha T
Daytona
Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs
Earl Sweatshirt
Some Rap Songs
Kids See Ghosts - KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Kids See Ghosts
KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance
Idles
Joy as an Act of Resistance

2018 Playlist
AOTY Discord
Forums
Vinyl Me, Please