Love, Simon Hype

I so looked forward to seeing the movie Love, Simon, which we taped earlier in the week. I heard a great deal about how good it was from reviewers and friends that I expected too much. We are all familiar with that experience. The high expectations game that one rarely can win. After all, few things live up to our imaginings, particularly if we are a person who enjoys spending time in our heads. We have the most wicked imagination of all!

I saw the movie last night. While it kept my interest, the lead character did not excite me very much. Although not the precocious teen of Call Me By Your Name, which in some ways is a blessing, Simon seems bland. As bland as the surroundings of the movie, which felt like suburban anywhere America.

Accompanying the blandness is a lack of tension. The plot makes me not feel fearful for the character. It also places him in contact with few people who draw out much positive or negative energy from Simon.

The distance between my feelings after seeing the movie and the hype cause me to read reviews. Generally, the top critics give the movie a positive review. Some even hype of the fact that the movie “is the first gay romance from a mainstream studio.”

Perhaps. As some reviewers mentioned Love, Simon played like a John Hughes 1980s style rom com. While Hughes made his cotton candy, independent studios and studios from around the world began making gay romances. Beginning with Steven Fears’ My Beautiful Laundrette through the late 1980s Merchant and Ivory collaborations (Maurice), these movies challenged sexual norms. The best of them also situated the viewer firmly in a specific environment and included tensions based upon the ethnicity or class background of the characters. During the 1990s we visited the south for Fried Green Tomatoes, middle-class New York City in The Wedding Banquet and the British housing projects for Beautiful Thing.  A somewhat comprehensive list of movies featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexual categories and interests appears here.

The reviews of Love, Simon that I found most insightful are included below. The first compares the movie with the book that gave it is origin. The book appears so much richer in character and sense of place. It also features more gay sensibilities. The movie hints at this with a comment between father and son that clues in the knowing viewer to the son traversing of the gay online world.

The second review challenges Hollywood liberal politics which it claims always safely return to the status quo regardless of where the movie takes the viewer. I found this reviews analysis of other movies featuring gay teens to be spot on. It reminded me how much I loved the movie Being 17 French film from 2016 that showed the tensions of being out, being gay, and having feelings that you don’t know how to handle. The violence between the boys is something that I I understood from my own experiences.

Armond White’s mentioning of the movie The DUFF  illuminated for me what remains similar in the romcom genre. Leah, Simon’s best friend, like so many other best friends of the leads in romcoms remains unattached. She is special as her description of her and Simon during the bedroom scene informs us. And many of us can relate to her, but why should she remain the only one of the group without a love interest?

Here’s hoping for more changes to romcoms!

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1 comment so far

  1. Mari Inshaw (@TruxtonTwit) on

    You have a typo, “The violence between the boys is something that I I understood from my own experiences.” Two eyes.


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