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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 14, 2018

Love, Simon Movie Review: Not Our Usual Teen Romance About A Closeted Young Man's Coming Out

NICK ROBINSON is the young leading man in "Everything Everything”, an interracial teen romance. He now plays the title role in “Love, Simon”, another interracial romance, but it’s not your usual boy-meets-girl type of romance as, this time, it’s not with a girl but with another guy. So the homophobes out there among you, be properly warned.

“Love, Simon” is based on a hit novel for young adults, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli. It could have been just another fun romcom about high school life if not for the fact that the narrator is a closeted gay teen. Nick plays a 17-year old boy but, in real life, he’s actually 23.

Simon himself narrates the story. He’s smart and witty and has a happy family life with his caring parents. His dad Jack (Josh Duhamel) used to be a top football jock in their high school while his mom Emily (Jennifer Garner) was the class valedictorian. He also has a caring sister, Nora (Talitha), who wants to be a chef. He likewise has wonderful friends, including his BFF from childhood, Leah (Katherine Langford of “13 Reasons Why”), Abby (Alexandra Shipp) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg.)

But Simon has a deep dark secret that he keeps to himself, until he meets someone named Blue on the internet to whom he opens up completely. Soon, he was falling in love with Blue. Now, who could Blue be? Simon has three suspects: Bram, his teammate in soccer; Joey, the waiter at the waffle house where they go; and Cal, the pianist at their drama club.

The big surprise will, of course, be revealed only in the end, with the script managing to pull the rug from under us. But before that, some grievous complications occur in Simon’s previously peaceful and perfect life when another classmate, Martin (Logan Miller), discovers his secret and blackmails him.

“Love, Simon” is a crowd pleaser that will remind you of high school romcom films of the past like “16 Candles” and “Breakfast Club”, where the focus is mainly on love and romance and not teen sex and lust. This one is similarly upbeat, wholesome and uplifting, but only, this time, it is also a coming-of-age and coming out story
of a gay teen. Still, it manages to be wholesome as things will somehow turn out right in the end for our hero. We actually even root for Simon so he’d be able to find his true love. The climactic scene at the ferris wheel where he’s waiting for Blue is a real winner.

The movie is capably directed by Greg Berlanti, a writer-director for movies (“Life as We Know It” which also starred Josh Duhamel) and TV producer and/or writer (he’s best known for “Arrow”, “The Flash”, “Supergirl”, “Riverdale” and “Blindspot”). He understands the material of “Love, Simon” well as he himself is gay and is in a same-sex marriage with a soccer player. He succeeds in keeping the tone light and bouncy and doesn’t really dwell on the seriousness of how hard it maybe to come out. It helps that he has a competent and likeable cast ensemble that delivers a heartfelt performance, led by Nick as the vulnerable closeted protagonist and his gal pal Leah who confesses that she’s been in love with him for so long.