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Review: Love, Simon

‘Love, Simon!’ is the film currently on everyone’s lips, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s the first gay teen romance by a major studio and it’s been a long time coming. The plot follows Simon who is balancing school, family, friends, the fact that he is secretly gay, a blackmailer threatening to out him, and a crush he has developed for an anonymous, also closeted, pen-pal at his school.

The narrative itself isn’t exactly original. Two individuals falling for each other over anonymous email accounts with the risk that someone might show the emails to the whole school is reminiscent of ‘A Cinderella Story’, and the online blog followed by all the students is very ‘Gossip Girl’. But, the introduction of an LGBTQ+ relationship into this common narrative allows for some incredibly nuanced moments. The audience is offered heart-wrenching emotion including Simon coming to terms with his identity and the fear of it being made public, alongside hilarious and thought-provoking scenes like imagining what it would be like if people had to come out as straight.

The three LGBTQ+ characters in the film each have different experiences with coming out; to themselves, their friends and family. Of course the people they tell have a range of reactions and responses. The amazing Jennifer Garner plays the most loveable, supportive, and independent mum that anyone would wish for. However, the stand-out character of the film has to be the drama teacher, played by Natasha Rothwell, who’s I-didn’t-play-an-extra-in-the-Lion-King-to-be-teaching-children attitude provides breaks between tense scenes, a necessary addition when dealing with such a serious issue as coming out in a teenage romantic comedy.

Yet, ironically, the only place the film faulters in is the very area it tried to be best at. The film producers spent a large amount of their budget on the music with the aim of producing a soundtrack that could stand alone and that viewers would play on repeat. And while the soundtrack does match the teenage, angsty, atmosphere, it doesn’t have the gravitas the producers were going for that films like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ have nailed. The film also sends some questionable messages, for instance, being supportive of LGBT+ individuals sometimes gets confused with treating them like a spectacle.

Despite these shortcomings, the film is a significant step for the LGBTQ+ community, and as rugby player and LGBT+ activist, Alexis Caught, has said, “there are so many fantastic, talented, out LGBT actors who are struggling for roles & to break through, and we deserve a chance to tell our own stories”. Indeed, Nick Robinson’s portrayal of an individual accepting his sexuality in an unaccepting world is beautiful and is sure to encourage those who are experiencing the same.

Overall, ‘Love, Simon’ is the perfect teen rom-com: beautiful and hilarious. It will capture a special place in the viewers’ hearts regardless of their sexuality. But for LGBT+ teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality, this will film is so much more, providing comfort and solace in the fact that they, like Simon, are not alone. Hopefully 20th Century Fox has finally set a precedent for more LGBTQ+ romance led narratives, and ‘Love, Simon’ is only just the start.

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