‘Love Simon’ (2018)

Love Simon (2018)

The Film I Wish I Had Growing Up

For much of history there as been an implied belief that each generation will have a better quality of life than the preceding one. Today statically younger people are on track to be poorer and more economically insecure than their parents’ generation. In our dark geo-political time when things can seem so much worse today than in previous decades, pop culture is full of nostalgic references to the 80s, 90s and now even the early 2000s.

Amidst this grim climate ‘Love Simon’ stands as a singular anomaly to this trend representing the good news story of the decade: that there has never been a better time in history to be a young LGBTQI person. ‘Love Simon’ is the film I wish I had growing up as a shy gay boy, looking for every bit of random gay representation usually in the form of the 90’s gay-best friend/side kick role, or in earlier films with the pathetic sissy character or the moral panic villain character.

Not the case of this film. Young gay love and coming out are the subject of the film not a side story to a central straight narrative. In this way ‘Love Simon’ represents history as the first big budget studio film, thank you 20th Century Fox, that involves the central protagonist as a gay person. It is shocking to think that it hasn’t happened until 2018, but when you think back on all the LQBTQI films you love, they were all independently produced. In the year of ‘Black Panther’ a revolution in minority blockbuster representation, its only fitting that we too change the way LGBTQI people are represented.

Not only is the film historic in its representation, and its sincere intent to make a coming out film for today’s youth, which has already inspired young people across the internet to come out, it is also different from gay cinematic history in that it has a happy ending.

The film recently won the audience favourite award at the 25th Annual Mardi Gras film festival, beating out heavyweight critical darlings, and in speaking to audience members who saw it the reactions were fairly uniform: they loved that it was uplifting with a happy ending. LGBTQI cinema has often held a mirror up to the pain of our history, homophobic violence, the damages of the closet, family abuse, AIDS epidemic, drug addiction and suicide. All noble, heart-breaking and vital tales of our collective struggle. And yet it has now become just as noble and vital to use cinema to portray a story of a young American boy dealing with coming out at school and his first love which fills the viewer with joy and optimism.

A prevailing criticism of ‘Love Simon’ which was also lobed against last’s years masterpiece ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is that these films are quote ‘unrealistic’, due in part to their overly romanticised vision of young gay love which many viewers did not share in their own lives. The parents in ‘Love Simon’ do look like supermodels, both films protagonists are from the upper-middle class and final scene in ‘Love Simon’ can strike one as overly saccharin and predictable. Valid criticisms to a degree. Yet perhaps these films seem unrealistic because of the historic darker history we have dealt with and the baggage we as an audience bring with us.

The film is not a masterpiece of the human condition or a searing drama but nor was it meant to be. The cast is uniformly well chosen, particularly the supporting cast, the overzealous principal, the cynical sassy drama teacher were my favourites. The key scenes between Simon and his parents and friends in which he comes out will have an impact on young gay kids lives that we cannot imagine. It is a sweet story set in perhaps a slightly technicolour world of modern gay life, that celebrates how far we have come in our collective LGBTQI experience. Leave your cynicism at the door and embrace the feel-good nature of the film. It does get better, and it did get better, ‘Love Simon’ is the proof.


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