What Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon does right is to turn a closeted gay teenager’s coming-out into something as sweet and tender as a conventional romance between two youngsters, where everything ends with their penultimate kiss that leads the audience to believe that they will live happily ever after even when the end credits start to roll. (READ: 'Love, Simon’ and lessons on coming out)
Set in a high school that isn’t all too different from any other high schools that have become settings to heterosexual romances, Love, Simon is rife with cliché, which isn’t exactly a bad thing considering the film uses the clichés to drive a more progressive point.
Simon (Nick Robinson) is a hopeless romantic who takes a chance at love by replying to an anonymous post in his high school’s online forum. He begins his coming-out story by going through the motions of a typical protagonist in a juvenile romance.
The film then elegantly moves forward, having Simon infer the identity of the person he is in love with, while wrestling with the consequences of his homosexuality.
Berlanti cleverly uses all the tropes of the genre.
There is never an instance wherein Love, Simon attempts to be anything more than light-hearted fare, one where coming out is intimately intertwined with the familiar endeavor of finding true love, which is familiar to anyone of whatever sexual orientation.
What is interesting, however, is that the film also doesn’t belittle the emotional heft of coming out. The film’s most stirring moments are the ones where Simon’s coming out results in an outpouring of a variety of reactions, from curiosity to suspicion and finally, love from the people who matter.
It is this unabashed optimism that drives the film’s charm.
It is a lovely fantasy in a harsher reality that has coming-out stories that do not end with starry-eyed people rooting for them. It is an oasis in a desert of intolerance. It is a very endearing escape in a world where being different is far from simple and dandy.
Think of Love, Simon as a film where everything inevitably goes right because the world is only intolerant inside the protagonist’s mind with only the repercussions of being gay are the immature insults of high school losers who have nothing better to do.
It is, however, also the film’s biggest problem.
Love, Simon is trapped in its own little world. It exists only in its high school where all the students as well as the teachers are stereotypes all in the service of a charismatic happy end for Simon. Its effect is generally limited to its ability to project a paradise for those who are different, where they can be who they are and find the love of their lives in the process.
Context of formula
Still, Love, Simon is lovely for whatever it is trying to do within the context of formula. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.