Let’s play Blue’s Clues in the first LGBTQ film backed by a major Hollywood Studio.
Based on the award-winning book ‘Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ from Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon stars Nick Robinson as Simon, a typical teenager who lives a perfect life, and is about to graduate high school. He does, however, have a “huge-ass” secret – he’s gay. Furthermore, he finds another anonymous gay student under the username ‘Blue’ in his school’s blog. And so, as Simon keeps in contact with his potential soul mate, he tries to find out whom his mysterious person at his high school is. Unfortunately, a mischievous student named Martin (Logan Miller) finds out about Simon’s secret, and blackmails him to either win over Abby – a friend in Simon’s group (Alexandra Shipp) – or he’ll reveal his secret to the entire school.
This is the first light-hearted teen rom-com to star a queer character, and be distributed by a major Hollywood studio like 20th Century Fox. But being a rom-com, it has its clichés. As soon as the blackmail plot-point kicks in, you can guess everything that happens within the “liar revealed” storyline. The main four teens (Robinson, Shipp, Katherine Langford and Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) give great performances and do have great chemistry together as best friends who hang out at school. Sure, these friends don’t have much uniqueness in the characterisation or personality department, but they still work together fine. Also, there are a couple of good laughs and jokes in the film that made me chuckle a bit. But most importantly, I love the concept of a “who is it” mystery, and even how it’s filmed. Throughout the film, Simon thinks about who Blue is. And every time he has an idea of who this person is, he always imagines him writing the emails with a blue filter, which is a nice visual element.
The most important thing about this film is how relatable Simon’s struggle to come out of the closet is. And while it does have some good intentions – as people of the LGBTQ community would have had this struggle – I wouldn’t say Simon is entirely relatable. In the very first scene, Simon states “I’m just like you” as he lives in his gigantic mansion with his perfectly bland family that NEVER argues, and travels via his expensive car to a school of happiness and non-conflicts with his friends. This type of setting just doesn’t correspond much to the idea that he’s relatable. I see more of an understanding about the real world from the other coming-of-age film from this year, Lady Bird. The mum was always arguing with her daughter, and Lady Bird’s gay friend was more under pressure of coming out due to being at a Christian School taught by nuns and priests during 2003 – a time and place where homosexuality was considered a sin, and the stance on gay marriage was strongly opposed.
What would have made the film’s concept more interesting is if the film was set around the same time as Lady Bird. Simon is afraid to come out because his friends might hate him or distance him from being gay, despite the film taking place this year (with evident use of smart phones, and two Trump references). At this point in time, gay marriage has been made legal in so many areas of the globe (including Australia). Furthermore, everyone in this film’s environment gets along well while standing up for equality in every aspect (like Simon’s mum played by Jennifer Garner who makes signs for a women’s rights rally in a brief scene). There’s little evidence of homophobia in this perfect utopia (with the exception of the two generic high school bullies). Because of this, I didn’t feel the pressure or the legitimacy of Simon’s drastic measures to keep this a secret and lie to his friends. I reckon a group of pals in a world of equality, diversity, and fairness in the movie’s utopia would have been fine with it from the start.
Overall, this is more of a film you pay money to watch at the cinema to stand up for equal rights and to be there for your gay friend. Not saying its bad in any capacity, rather the film is fine. But it’s also bland, safe and predictable with only one major alteration making up for it. It is important that the LGBTQ community get more representation in mainstream films, and I’m pretty sure that the success of this film at the Box Office will pave the way for better films that put this community in a uplifting light. If you’re into these teen rom-coms, I reckon you’ll love Simon more.