Review: Love, Simon

So, I mentioned in my last update post that I wanted to get back into more regular posts on Queering the Mainstream. And what better way to do that than with a bang by doing my first Visual Review! In an effort to expand the things I talk about, I’ve decided to move beyond book reviews. But naturally, the main focus of this blog remains all gay, all day. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Warning: I’m trying to avoid major spoilers in this review, but proceed with caution just in case.

For my first Visual Review, I’ve chosen to go, naturally, with the film adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (a.k.a. my favourite book).

The movie has been rechristened as LOVE, SIMON. It officially releases this Friday, March 16th.

But thanks to the Canadian Centre for Gender+Sexual Diversity, I won passes to an advance screening on March 12th. I then went and saw the movie twice on opening weekend.

And let me tell you… I was blown away by this beautiful film, as I knew I would be. The book means so much to me and I went into the movie with high expectations. However, I was going in expecting a direct book-to-film translation, and with good reason.

I had the opportunity to meet Becky Albertalli and see her at a couple events last fall, where she compared the book and film to fraternal twins, not identical twins. Basically, the two are very similar but some changes had to be made for the film adaptation.

Regardless, I walked into the movie feeling very excited. Basically…

The story follows high school student Simon Spier who is not-so-openly gay. Simon meets another student, who goes anonymously by Blue, online and the two begin corresponding over email. Another student, Martin, stumbles across Simon’s gmail account on a library computer and threatens to leak Simon’s emails with Blue unless Simon helps Martin get a date with his friend Abby. In the meantime, Simon’s continues to grow closer (over email) with Blue, while trying to guess which boy from school his mysterious crush actually is.

Okay, now it’s time to spill my feelings on this movie. Warning: I have a lot of them.

Let me just say, this movie is everything I hoped it would be and more. While queer films have been making a lot of headway in recent years, with Moonlight winning Best Picture at last year’s Academy Awards, and the recent Call Me By Your Name receiving multiple nominations and winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. And while one half of Call Me By Your Name’s central couple, Elio, is seventeen (the same age as Simon), the film is more marketed for adult audiences.

Love, Simon, however, is a milestone. It is the first release featuring a gay teen love story from a major studio. With a PG-13 rating, it is also definitely aiming for a younger audience. Despite this, however, I’ve seen and heard of many adults that are flocking to this film in part for what makes me love this story so much: it’s the kind I have been waiting years of my life to see.

I was Simon’s age, seventeen, when I came out for the first time. But it took until I was twenty-eight to see my own experiences reflected in a similar way on film… in Love, Simon. For example, there’s a scene where Simon comes out to his friend Abby in the car. I’ve had similar experiences when coming out to my friends.

There have been some reviews of the film that have suggested teens today don’t need this movie.  This is a movie I needed thirteen years ago when I was struggling to accept myself. And while some may argue that we live in an age when coming out stories like Simon’s just aren’t as necessary, the number of Tweets I’ve seen from people saying Love, Simon gave them the courage to come out after seeing the movie suggest otherwise.

This movie is beautiful and funny and so much more emotional than I even expected. I cried all three times I saw it. I’m probably going to cry every future time I watch it. I have a lot of feelings about this story and I am so damn happy it exists in the world.

In the movie, Simon says he deserves a great love story. And queer people deserve to see those love stories on the big screen. Books and television are miles ahead of the film industry when it comes to queer stories, and here’s hoping that Love, Simon is a major leap in the right direction to getting more stories told like this.