Coming from the well-traveled genre of young adult romance, “Love, Simon” is a film that refuses to conform to the restrictions that its predecessors created. The story focuses on the life of a teenage boy named Simon who, for the most part, is just like every other kid his age. But he has one big secret: Simon is gay, and no one knows it.
Even though it is obviously not what everyone listened to in high school, the music in this film gives the sentimental feeling of being a teenager again. There are several songs by indie pop artist Bleachers that feel free and full of nostalgia for the days of driving around with friends, windows down and music blaring.
The depiction of teenage grief in this film is done very well. When things get tough for Simon, he shuts out the entire world, including his friends and family. He goes through the familiar cycle of getting knocked down and kicked around, with barely any time to recover from the previous blow.
Social media plays an interesting role in this film. It is essentially personified to be its own character, playing just as big of a part as the actual characters. It would be foolish to exclude social media from a 21st century teenage story, but in order for it to be effective, it would have to be used in a smart way, which this film definitely does with the inclusion of a school-wide blogging website.
Since Simon is quite sure of his sexuality, this story is less about him coming to terms with it and more about him trying to find true love through another anonymous gay kid at his school that he exchanges emails with. The film does a remarkable job at keeping the audience guessing who it could be, right up to the very end. Simon projects his predictions onto the various people he thinks it could be, and even imagines how each scenario would play out in his head.
As raw and realistic as it is, there are still a couple of things in this film that feel a bit forced, the first being Simon’s relationship with his family. While there are some high school kids who truly do get along well with their parents and siblings, this family is a little too perfect. In order for it to feel more realistic, there needs to be some tension, even if it is something small.
The other thing that feels unnatural is the teachers. This film presents the audience with the two different stereotypes of teachers: the quirky, trying-too-hard-to-be-cool, intrusive principal, and the actually cool, spunky, sharp drama teacher. These characters end up sharing some comedic moments, but for the most part, they feel too over-the-top.
“Love, Simon” does not ignore the stereotypes of its genre, but rather it puts a fresh spin on them. Through genuinely funny humor, an authentically relatable group of friends, and raw emotional moments, this film is one of the more true-to-life depictions of the struggles of being in high school in the 21st century.