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Love, Simon

Based on Becky Albertalli’s novel, ‘Love, Simon’ is a breath of fresh air. For a long time, romance movies featuring gay characters have usually ended in heartbreak. While this ‘gay romantic tragedy’ genre has seen several films win praise and awards, it’s been frustrating not seeing a gay romance without the spectre of death hovering over characters. ‘Love, Simon’ ignores that awful device and goes for a simple coming of age romance. Although having a few gay clichés generally seen in American movies, it dares to offer brightness amongst the gloom of cinematic same-sex relationships.

Simon (Nick Robinson) is a closeted gay teenager attending high school. Although close to his parents Jack (Josh Duhamel) and Emily (Jennifer Garner), he hasn’t told them his secret. Whilst grappling with this issue, he begins an on-line connection with a fellow class-mate. The problem is this person goes under a codename with Simon left guessing as to who he may be. Aided by his friends, Simon attempts to discover his current crush and come out to his family.

Although walking a predictable path, ‘Love, Simon’ doesn’t have any false sincerity. Many of the situations and feelings Simon has ring true as he tries to solve his problems. Learning about love, betrayal and hope, Simon’s journey from the film’s beginning is interesting. Whilst occasionally indulging in the usual American sentimentality, the emotions the characters feel seem real. The performances are all solid with a great 80’s-style soundtrack capturing the bright days for which Simon longs.

Greg Berlanti directs with compassion, making ‘Love, Simon’ feel more personal than most. Berlanti ensures the comedy and drama are effectively mixed allowing the movie’s themes to clearly stand out. The concept of having a mystery for audiences to solve also enables them to remain invested in proceedings with the reveal not as easy as expected.

‘Love, Simon’ may be a little overlong and familiar, but it marks its territory amidst a glut of ‘gay romantic despair’ films. Its optimism makes it more daring than others and charts a unique course in the teen-angst genre. With marriage equality now a reality, hopefully the issues Simon faces will gradually fade with respectful acceptance being something all should learn.

Rating out of 10: 7

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