“Love, Simon” comes out on top


The romantic comedy dominating the box office in past weeks takes a break from the typical “boy meets girl” storyline in the most literal of ways. The plot of “Love, Simon” centers around Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay teen who is trying to navigate high school while also maintaining a blossoming online relationship and appeasing a blackmailer. The movie takes great pains to point out that Spier is entirely normal; the only struggle that he faces in the movie is dealing with trying to come out as gay to his family and friends.

One thing that the film is able to do exceedingly well is to portray specific emotions, leaving the viewer feeling precisely what the creators intended. Certain characters are meant to be disliked, and their portrayal makes it easy to do so, while dialogue and expression make emotional scenes more poignant.

This is improved by a well-developed relationship among characters, and each main character is portrayed in a way that makes the entire movie feel more real. Despite the fact that some characters — even the protagonist — fall victim to stereotypes at times, they’re otherwise developed in a way that connects the reader to the story. For example, Abby Suso (Alexandra Shipp), one of Spier’s friends, is often objectified by the men around her and encourages Simon to act more flamboyantly. However, she still ends up as one of the most dynamic characters in the movie, propelling the plot forward.

While the plot itself can be thin at times, the significance of the movie is never lost on the viewer. In a film industry wherein the lives of queer characters are often portrayed exclusively as tragedies, having a story that is generally lighthearted is rare, yet important. For children — especially queer children — who have grown up without many gay icons, the movie takes a great leap toward representation that matters. Showcasing the struggle of coming out, even in a case with a generally accepting public (albeit with several staunch homophobic exceptions), conveys an all-too-familiar story for anyone who has gone through the same experience as Spier while pointing out aspects that many straight people never have to realize.