I wasn’t planning on going to see Love, Simon. It looked like a standard high school-set romantic comedy. And, truth be told, that isn’t wrong. But then that struck me as why I should see it. I’ve seen commentary recently about how movies like this, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and A Wrinkle in Time are very much like traditional movies but without a straight, white male protagonist. We’ve got women and black people as superheroes and mixed race young girls running around the universe to rescue missing parents. Why not a high school romance with a gay male lead?
So, here we are.
Truth be told, this movie wasn’t bad, but it also was very much like a standard high school romance. Remove the gay angle, where Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) has a fairly comfortable, upper-middle class existence with an understanding family and great friends as he’s coming into his final year of high school, and it looks like many other high school-set romances. He just has a big secret: he’s gay. Simon is sure he would be accepted by his family and friends (and, to the movie’s credit, he isn’t wrong), but he still is highly hesitant to tell anyone his sexual orientation. Then when a school gossip site has an anonymous classmate of Simon’s reveal he’s gay and in the closet, Simon screws up his courage, adopts an alias, and emails the fellow, starting a slow, tentative romance where Simon attempts to figure out which of his classmates is the mysterious “Blue”. Things get more complicated when another classmate discovers Simon’s secret and attempts to blackmail Simon into getting a date with Simon’s friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp).
In many ways, this is a very standard movie of its genre. Director Greg Berlanti (producer of half the CW’s line-up, including the Arrowverse shows and Riverdale) has created a movie that would not be too out of place compared to something like Easy A or any John Hughes film. And it’s that rather ordinariness that makes the movie special. It isn’t rewriting the rules of mainstream motion pictures. It’s using them to say that, well, we’ve reached a point where a story like Simon’s should be seen as normal. That’s rather cool. The acting and story is fine, the movie works well, and I’m not sorry I saw it despite this not being my usual genre. Eight and a half out of ten vice principals who overshare.