Love, Simon movie review

One of my most anticipated films of 2018 is finally out in theaters! Love, Simon (Fox, March 2018; PG-13), based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 YA novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, is a coming-of-age story about sixteen-year-old Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) who has a huge secret: he’s gay. His life is turned upside down when classmate Martin Addison (Logan Miller) blackmails Simon into convincing his best friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp) to go out with Martin. If not, Martin will out Simon using personal emails between Simon and the mysterious Blue, another closeted teenage boy Simon falls in love with.

I was fortunate enough to attend an advance screening and went in with few expectations (other than hoping it was amazing). Becky Albertalli had been tweeting updates throughout the film’s production, expressing her love for the script; though new scenes and characters had been added, it still remained faithful to the book. This was reassuring. But Simon and Blue’s relationship in the book was one that I loved so much (OTP!), I hoped the film would portray them well. I was also nervous about getting emotional, and I went prepared with tissues.

This adaptation, in my opinion, was sheer perfection. It’s the coming-out story that needs to be told because everyone deserves a great love story. (And it’s just as important for those who identify as heterosexual to see the movie because they will have a better understanding of what a family member, a friend, a classmate, an acquaintance may have experienced.) More than that, it’s a story about identity and embracing who you are. Teens and younger kids alike need this movie — and hopefully more like it — featuring characters going through a similar experience that they are. I can’t speak from experience, but it’s clear from both the book and the movie what a burden it is to keep such a huge part of who you are under wraps. You feel scared and alone; uncertain whether you’ll be accepted by those you love or by the rest of the world. Nick Robinson’s performance, plus those by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as Simon’s parents, conveyed these emotions so well.

It showed as I witnessed the audience’s reaction to the film. There was a huge response: they laughed at Ethan’s (Clark Moore) one-liners, empathized with Simon, booed Martin, praised no-nonsense drama teacher Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell), and cheered enthusiastically for Simon’s happy ending. It was obvious from people’s reaction to the revelation of Blue's identity that most of them had not read the book, but that was okay. To me, it meant screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker did their job exceptionally well and that the film can stand on its own. Director Greg Berlanti, along with the entire cast and crew, treated the story with the respect it deserved. Of course I will always say “Read the book first” because it’s an experience all its own, but the movie versions of Simon and Blue won their way into my heart alongside their book counterparts.

Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is an editorial intern for The Horn Book, Inc.

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