Nothing warms my heart more than finally seeing queer representation in mainstream cinema. It will therefore come as no surprise to hear that I came out (pun not intended) of the cinema after seeing Love, Simon with the most fuzzy and delightful feeling in my tummy. I was also still crying. A lot. Through my tears and warm fuzzy tummy, I instantly realised that Love, Simon was so much more than a cheesy teen romantic comedy. This film’s importance goes far beyond the clichés and cringe of teen movies. It is comforting and crucial.
A sleepover staple.
Love, Simon follows Simon Spier, a gay closeted high schooler with a passion for Brendon Urie and iced coffee. Simon begins to peak out of the closet doors when another gay kid at his school, Blue, anonymously comes out on a gossip blog, leading Simon to befriend Blue under a pseudonym via email. Much of the film follows Simon desperately trying to figure out Blue’s identity whilst simultaneously, dealing with his own identity being thrown into danger with the threat of being outed by a fellow student to the entire school.
Teen movies are known for being corny, clichéd and overdramatic. That does not stop me from adoring them and Love, Simon is no exception. Even though queer films exist, I have never seen one told in this genre before. This film felt like an instant classic. It’s quotable, memorable and relatable. In the same way that me and my friends watched Mean Girls, 17 Again and 10 Things I Hate About You at sleepovers, I can envision the next generation staying up until 3am watching Love, Simon, tucked into sweaty sleeping bags, feeling sick from all the maltesers and doritos they’ve gorged on. This is a sleepover staple – a sleepover staple with a gay protagonist which makes Love, Simon so meaningful and different.
Although Love, Simon is funny enough to suit a sleepover, this humour is perfectly balanced with its strong emotional core. When it comes to queer cinema, I’m so used to seeing purely sadness and melancholy and so it is very refreshing to watch a film be so emotionally raw yet have so many laughs. I clearly cared strongly for and connected with these characters to have such an intense physical reaction. Much of this hinges on the very compelling performance given by Nick Robinson, who plays the titular character. Robinson gives Simon a delightfully awkward charm that makes him so believable and so easy to connect with; I cared for Simon deeply, as if he was one of my own friends.
Just wanting to be loved.
It wasn’t just me who cared so deeply for Simon either. I could hear sniffles and tissues rustling across the cinema. I saw the film with two straight friends who also felt the emotional impact of Love, Simon. I really appreciated how even with the inclusion of many jokes clearly aimed at being relatable to queer people, including a debacle about how to dress gay, this film reaches across differences in sexuality. It breaks down barriers to realise we are all just people wanting to be loved.
What I think Love, Simon successfully achieves is the normalisation of queer representation in films intended for young audiences. It is not ground-breaking, per se, in its inclusion of a gay protagonist but it is certainly ground-breaking in its use of a gay protagonist in this particular genre. It is breaking down the misconceived ideas that queer sexuality and love is only suitable for older audiences and is too grown up for younger people to understand. Although both are brilliant films in their own right, Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name, do not aim themselves at young teens and are considered to be more highbrow cinema. In comparison, Love, Simon’s light-hearted and purposefully clichéd nature makes this film an accessible and refreshing addition to the growing number of successful queer films.
With Love, Simon being a box office and critical success in America, I hope it will lead the way for even more diverse queer representations in major Hollywood film. I hope that doors are opened for more light-hearted movies about trans, lesbian, bisexual and non-binary teens to walk through, allowing queer people to be seen as more than melancholic figures of tragedy. To put it simply, I love Love, Simon.