Teenager Simon Spier (a warm turn from Robinson, Jurassic World) is gay and no one knows it. When he sees a social media post from a boy in his school going by the name Blue who is gay, Simon gets in touch and finally admits his sexual orientation to someone at last, albeit anonymously. The two embark on a series of emails, both pondering their lives as they approach the moment where they will come out and how the news will be received. However, Martin (Miller) finds the emails and threatens to out Simon if he doesn't help him get with new girl Abby (Shipp)…
Shakespearean complications immediately arise. Best friend Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) confesses he fancies the hotpants off Abby, so Simon has to ensure that dies on the vine, and it's becoming difficult to ignore that Leah (Katherine Langford) secretly loves Simon. And despite his blackmailing, Martin isn't a bad guy: he just really really really likes Abby and has no clue as to how to go about it so Simon can't hate him as much as he'd like to. And who the hell is Blue? It can't be Bram (Keiynan Lonsdale) because he was kissing a girl at a party. Is it Lyle (Joey Pollari) who has a part time job at the Waffle House? Or is it musician Cal (Miles Heizer) busy on the school production of Cabaret?
The coming of age movie has come of age of late. The teen movie has moved beyond unrequited love/will they-won’t they? stories to incorporate violence (The Dirties), statutory rape (Diary of a Teenage Girl), alcoholism (The Spectacular Now) and sexual abuse (The Perks of Being A Wallflower). Love, Simon can be included for its unique depiction of the coming out story. Sure, Greg Araki documented gay teens in The Doom Generation and Totally Fucked Up, and Call Me By Your Name was a recent success, but they were for a select arthouse audience; Greg Berlanti's (Riverdale, Dawson’s Creek) sweet film, an adaptation of Becky Albertalli's YA novel, is an unabashed John Hughes mainstream gay rom-com.
But it's an unabashed John Hughes mainstream gay rom-com that doesn't opt for the obvious. Simon can’t articulate why he chooses not to come out. He knows that Mum (Garner) is a feminist and would be cool with it while Dad (Josh Duhamel) is the sensitive type and would be down so no problems there. Plus, there's already an openly gay boy in the school already (Clark Moore). He's the victim of some homophobic remarks but gives as good as he gets. So what gives? It’s an unexpected set up and it poses interesting questions like, "Why is it only gay people who have to come out? Why is straight the default?"
This is a serious issue, the film says, but it shouldn't be anymore. Damn right: Love, Simon is tonic for the cynics in that its world is full of people who understand. This film wouldn’t exist ten years ago and there's progress in that.