‘Love, Simon’ Review: Gay Teen Romance

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) and Leah Burke (Katherine Langford) are having a sleepover at Simon's house. (20th Century Fox)

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) and Leah Burke (Katherine Langford) are having a sleepover at Simon’s house. (20th Century Fox)

A touching love story that is moving, sensitive and a complete winner.

There has been some recent high points of gay cinema on the indie circuit. The Oscars had “Moonlight” and “Call Me By Your Name” being the most high profile examples. It’s a shock to learn that director Greg Berlanti’s film is the first mainstream studio release to put a teen front and center about coming out. Television has already been way ahead for years on this topic.

An ordinary coming-of-age tale, “Love, Simon” wins you over by capturing your heart. This film is an adaption of Becky Albertalli’s young adult novel “Simon vs, the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” but goes gentler into the topic than you might expect or perhaps want. But the safe, PG-13 approach could perhaps widen the audience for a movie that gay teens, raised on straight romcoms, have longed to see for generations.

The movie debuted on March 16 and grossed about $4,610,000, according to the Box Office Mojo. Throughout the weekend it has grossed an estimate of $6, 890, 000.

Actor Nick Robinson from “Jurassic World” is funny and touching as Simon Spier, a senior at an Atlanta high school where coming to terms with your sexuality is hard. Well, as hard as anywhere else. His parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) come off as liberal enough to handle the news, yet Simon has trouble coming out to his parents because his dad refers to flamboyant men as “fruity.” (Yes, he did say that in the film.)

“I’m just like you, except I have one huge-ass secret,” Simon informs us with a voiceover while he watches a hunky gardener get busy with a leaf blower. At school, he hangs out with Leah (Katherine Langford), soccer jock Nick (Jorge Lenderborg), and the new girl Abby (Alexandra Shipp), but these loyal friends are not enough to spur him to say it loud and say it proud.

Berlanti’s film features bubbly characters like the school’s vice principal (Tony Hale) and drama teacher (Natasha Rothwell) to bring some humor.

Simon saw a guy named “Blue” that posted on an anonymous online hook-up website that he was gay which he could relate with, so he emailed him. Simon forms a relationship with Blue and tries to identify with a list of suspects. The list include macho Bram (Keiynan Lonsdale), musician Cal (Miles Heizer) and a friendly waiter Lyle (Joey Pollari). Things start to get complicated when Martin (Logan Miller), a drama geek, discovers Simon’s secret. Martin blackmails him until Simon sets him up with his friend Abby.

This is the point where everything starts to crumble, all because he did not want the whole world to know his true identity. The plot does tend to lean towards the usual slick and sitcom-ish story. The film redeems itself by the sincere joy between the actors and Berlanti as they embrace the protagonist’s growing self awareness.

“Love, Simon” is a film for audiences who just got woke, which is when you finally get an understanding of what is really going on and were wrong about how much of that was understood to be the truth. For all its attempts to remain neutral, the movie is a genuine groundbreaker by changing the industry norms with romcoms.