Last month, we talked about Love, Simon and what people should expect from the film. Many praised it which led me to have high expectations for the movie. Usually that would lead to disappointment, but since I didn’t read the source material (Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda by Becky Abertalli) I still kept my mind open to the possible outcomes.
The movie started out like a regular teen movie—the protagonist, Simon Spier, is introducing himself as having a regular family, group of friends, and school life. He then hints on the fact that he’s a closeted gay person.
But from there, Simon didn’t make it seem like he was ashamed of his sexual identity. It’s just a matter of finding the right time to come out to the people close to him, which is difficult for anyone who are going through the same thing. Which is also why it’s easy for Simon to divulge details of his identity to an anonymous blogger from his school named “Blue,” who is also gay.
What the movie does well is the progression of scenes that make you laugh, cringe, and feel heavy emotions. The lighthearted scenes often depicts the awkwardness of their teenage lives. In Simon’s case, it’s also how he’s coming into terms with his identity, like thinking of how he’ll navigate through college as an openly gay person. (It involves a fantasy filled with dancing and singing students wearing colorful shirts.) It builds up the characters and showing them as humans rather than caricatures you’d expect from the novel.
The cringe comes from how Martin Addison, Simon’s classmate, tries to blackmail him by outing him to the whole school. I’m not going to divulge how Simon tried to stop this because if you plan on watching this, it’s important to feel his frustration to keep something that was dear to him. You should see for yourself how he takes control of his decision to tell people about his sexual identity because no one else has the right to do that.
Another thing I appreciate about Love, Simon is how it raises questions about coming out and how being gay should be as normal as being straight. “Why is straight the default?” Simon asked while comedic scenes of his friends flashed where they admitted to being straight; their parents breaking down over the fact that they’re in love with the opposite sex.
Overall, Love, Simon isn’t a kitschy and shallow film about a gay person. It takes you along with him to his journey of finding the right time to come out and the anonymous person he’s fallen in love with. It didn’t put Simon at a disadvantage because of his sexuality, the film depicted him as a human being who is capable of doing good things as well as mistakes. It just shows that you can create a teen movie and/or love story without portraying the LGBTQ+ people as sidekicks.
One tiny qualm I have about it though is the fact that it’s rated R-13, making it more difficult for younger people here to watch it. According to MTRCB’s definition of the rating, movies might contain brief sexual encounters, nudity, strong language, and so on. But the movie was tame in terms of the sexual encounters, apart from the same-sex kissing scenes which shouldn’t be a problem at all.
As for the concerns about using the LGBTQ+ theme as a trend, Love, Simon didn’t feel that way at all. It’s a story worth telling that a lot of people, whether gay or straight, can relate to and reflect on. Which is why it’s important for everyone who’s going through the same experiences to see this because it can really open one’s mind about what gay and closeted gay people might go through. It did help other people to come out and families to accept their kids after all. So go catch this film when it premieres on May 9 (there will also be sneak previews in select cinemas on April 30 and May 1) and keep an open mind, you won’t regret it.
Screengrabs from Love, Simon
How Love, Simon Inspired People to Come Out
An Open Letter to the Rise of LGBT+ Films
What’s It Like to Come Out to Your Dads?
Why Did Netflix Cancel a Show that Tackles Gender Equality?