Love, Simon review – heartwarming gay romance

In this fun, engaging and intelligent drama, a teenager’s anonymous email conversation leads to complications – and love

With its sheer warmth, openness, likability and idealism, Love, Simon won me over. It takes all the corniness and tweeness of the coming-of-age genre and transplants new heart into it. A high-school kid is about to come out as gay. This is Simon, played by 23-year-old Nick Robinson, and his story puts a smart new spin on straight romcom classics such as The Shop Around the Corner and You’ve Got Mail, with their anonymised romances.

This movie’s storyline does come carefully encased in an unassumingly small-c conservative plot superstructure, and in the real world not everyone in Simon’s situation has such a well-off home, sophisticated and pricey vinyl collection or impeccably liberal, non-bigoted family and circle of friends, whose reactions are never in doubt. Here the hostility is carefully quarantined to a couple of obviously homophobic boys, whose narrative function is to be trounced and then tacitly forgiven. The only other out gay kid in the school is almost impossibly witty and well-adjusted, nearly middle-aged in his droll composure. In real life, things are a bit more muddled than that. But what a smart, fun, engaging film.

Simon’s personal life comes to a crisis when he starts having an anonymous email conversation with a boy known only as “Blue”; he calls himself “Jacques”. They fall in love. But who is Blue? The mystery becomes trickier when drama-club nerd Martin (Logan Miller) discovers Simon’s secret and agrees not to publicise it in exchange for Simon’s help in his doomed mission to impress the hottest girl in school, Abby, played by Alexandra Shipp – Storm from X-Men, Apocalypse.

Martin isn’t supposed to be a bad guy, just desperate, but his temporary blackmailing nastiness is something that the film has to finesse, reasonably successfully. It all rolls up to a happy ending that feels entirely deserved. What a thoroughly intelligent and good-natured film.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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