MOVIE REVIEW: Love, Simon a mainstream breakthrough
LOVE, SIMON (M)
Rating: three stars (3 out of 5)
Director: Greg Berlanti (Life as We Know It)
Starring: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Tony Hale, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp.
The inner turmoil of avoiding an outing
A very amiable, if unambitious adaptation of a recent bestseller by Beck Albertalli, Love, Simon has already drawn considerable attention around the traps.
Primarily for breaking through as the first gay-themed movie to be entirely financed and widely released by a major Hollywood studio.
While it is not a work that will change the world, Love, Simon will indeed mean the world to any viewers living through the same trials, tribulations and unnecessarily solitary soul-searching as its teen protagonist.
Simon (played by Nick Robinson) is moving into his final year of high school with the support of a loving family, the camaraderie of a close-knit posse of friends, and the constant worry of living with what he calls "one huge-ass secret".
Not a person in his life is aware that Simon is gay. Coming out is something Simon believes might be easier to deal with once he leaves his home town to attend college in another state.
However, before the year is through, Simon will have to confront the possibility that any choice regarding the timing of his own outing may no longer be in his hands.
A yearning to communicate with someone else experiencing the same lonely process of hiding through their true self from the world proves to both the breaking and the making of Simon.
An important virtual relationship via email with another student - albeit anonymously after a chance meeting on the school's central message board - gives Simon some hope he might be heading in the right direction.
Then those emails are discovered and used as blackmail against Simon, and suddenly, all that hope is gone.
It must be said that Love, Simon can get a little too bland for its own good at times. Some of the plotting (particularly that blackmail angle, which carries decidedly little weight as depicted here) is very sketchy, and the limited acting skills of Robinson as Simon fail to add some much-needed detail.
The supporting cast, however, are wonderful across the board. Particularly Jennifer Garner as Simon's mother, a sensitive woman who is finds a way to extend a helping hand to her son without fully knowing what he is going through.
Love, Simon opens tomorrow.