I was ready to love LOVE, SIMON, even predicting I might cry by the end. All I knew was that it was a very well received teen romance about a kid called Simon coming out - a long over-due mainstream look at a seminal moment for any gay teen. The movie starred Jennifer Garner as the mum - so was bound to be aw-shucks lovely and earnestness - and even had two of the cast of 13 REASONS WHY - Katherine Langford and Miles Heizer - for teen credibility.
But as the movie unfolded I found myself alienated by its interior design perfection. Perfect house, perfect room, perfect parents. Simon listens to perfectly curated cool music and has perfectly curated politically correct diverse friends. I guess this is the point - when life is so perfect - why risk alienation from it by coming out? And so Simon resists coming-out, even though his parents are so huggingly-warm-hearted and liberal. Rather, he submits to a blackmailer at school and sells his friends out. I'm sure this is meant to come across as a genuinely tough decision but it struck me as just really shitty and selfish, for a kid who was probably going to have the easiest coming out in history.
The rom-com grinds through its wheels. Third act alienation of all friends. Fourth act redemption. And ends with a happy politically correct resolution. But it just left me as limp and unexcited as the poorly executed mid-move college-set dance number - clearly inspired by (500) DAYS OF SUMMER.
It all got me wondering just how radical this film really was. When I grew up I was watching Ricki deal with high school bullying and sex on MY SO-CALLED LIFE with a level of authenticity way beyond anything here. Is this really the progress - or regress - we have made in thirty years? That, dear reader, is truly depressing. It also got me wondering how actors could go from a show that attempts something as raw, and truthful, and unpatronising as 13RW, into something as banal and airbrushed as this. For shame. Still, for all that, I'm glad this movie exists insofar as it can give comfort and inspiration to any kids out there. I just don't need to see it again.
LOVE, SIMON is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 110 minutes.
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