“Love, Simon” is the movie that today’s teens have been hoping for


Fox Studios

Love, Simon poster featuring Simon, portrayed by Nick Robinson, and his friends, portrayed by Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Katherine Langford, and Alexandra Shipp.

Love, Simon is a new teen romance movie with a twist. Based on the book Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the movie follows a typical high school senior, Simon Spier (portrayed by Nick Robinson), as he navigates friendships, high school, and a mysterious online relationship all while in the closet. Love, Simon is the first mainstream romance movie about a closeted gay teen produced by a major production company. While there have been multiple successful movies that highlight LGBT characters and relationships, like Moonlight and Call Me by Your Name, these movies are typically aimed at older audiences with R ratings or more artistic audiences with showings only at arthouse theaters. In teen-aimed content, LGBT representation has a reputation for not going well, usually either having stereotypical one-sided characters or very sad storylines. In recent years this has been improving, but #buryyourgays is an undeniable trope. Some people think movies like Love, Simon aren’t necessary and that current teens won’t appreciate it but I disagree. Love, Simon provides semi-realistic positive content for teens, whether or not they’re gay. Love, Simon is a fun, relatable story- and positive relatable role-models are essential when you’re growing up.

Love, Simon is more than just groundbreaking on paper though – it’s a good movie. It manages to balance difficult topics with laugh-out-loud comedy and gets a visceral reaction out of audiences. This is mainly due to the amazing writing and casting. Every character, no matter how small, feels incredibly real. I was afraid that Katherine Langford, who portrayed Leah, would be overshadowed by her previous role as Hannah Baker in 13 Reasons Why, but she managed to shake that off, and her portrayal of Leah stood well on its own. All of the actors fit their roles very well.

The movie adaptation did stray from the book, but overall it was a good thing. The book is much longer and delves into more in-depth plot lines, especially Leah’s. It’s a level of depth that just can’t be done in a two-hour movie. The relationship between Simon and his mystery pen pal known as “Blue” feels less intimate and less developed because of this difference in depth and length. It’s understandably a very difficult thing to translate from a book to a movie, and overall the romance aspect was good- just not as good as in the book. The biggest change is Leah’s plotline. In the book, Leah is grappling with feeling isolated within her friend group, but in the movie, she grapples with unrequited love. Changes like this and others cut out a lot of small scenes in the book, which in the end shortened the movie to a reasonable runtime and solidified Simon as the main character. The movie also added things that weren’t in the book. For example, Ethan, an openly gay student at Simon’s school, was a really good addition to the movie and the scenes he was added in were worthwhile.

The story itself also felt incredibly real and relatable. It’s the closest I’ve ever seen a movie come to accurately depicting high school, especially in this age. It does have some unrealistic aspects but not so many as to undermine the film, and what teen romance movie doesn’t have unrealistic aspects? The unrealistic rom-com aspects just added to the normalization of a gay storyline and made it enjoyably positive. The movie also balances the fact that Simon’s sexuality is a big part of his life with the fact that he’s also more than just his sexuality, which is a balance that can be hard to come by in the media. In the end, Simon is struggling less with the fact that he’s gay and more so with a fear of rejection. Something anyone, no matter their sexuality, can relate to. Like Simon says in the trailer, “No matter what, announcing who you are to the world is pretty terrifying because what if the world doesn’t like you?”

Love, Simon is no crazy new concept or artistically groundbreaking film. It’s a good high school movie that tells a relatable story with fun characters and a great soundtrack. Of course, it isn’t exactly like high school, but it’s closer than a lot of other rom-coms. Seeing it in theaters is a fun  experience that just about anyone can enjoy. In the end, Love, Simon is groundbreakingly normal, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.