“Love, Simon,” starring Nick Robinson in its titular role, premiered on March 16, 2018.
It’s your typical coming-of-age romantic comedy but with a twist: the main character is gay.
Gay characters and characters on the LGBTQ+ spectrum are typically uncommon as leads in films.
According to a study released by the University of Southern California, one percent of leading characters in films released in 2016 were LGBT. This one percent falls entirely to the main character in the film “Moonlight.”
“Moonlight” is a critically acclaimed drama. “Love, Simon,” is in a coming-of-age, coming-out film. There is still very far to go when it comes to LGBT representation in film, especially when it comes to protagonists, but Simon Spier is a relatable star and a step into a genre that does not often see LGBT leads.
The fact that Spier is gay is very important but is not his only character trait, as may be seen in LGBT characters in other films. Much of the plot hinges on Spier’s attempts to keep his sexuality secret, but just as much is focused on his relationships with his family, his friends and of course, his love interest.
The people that surround Spier are all presented as real people with their own personalities, interests and problems. Their lives do not revolve solely around Spier and they have clear motives for all of their actions, right or wrong. So few movies of this genre use an ensemble cast to their highest potential, but this one does.
Viewers get to see his parents’ relationship with each other and his sister’s love for cooking. They get to see how Abby Suso, one of Spier’s best friends, adjusts to moving to a new school senior year, Leah Burke feels like an outcast and Nick Eisner struggles with his feelings towards both girls. When Spier’s friends feel he wrongs them, their reactions make sense, because the audience knows them as people, not just as his one-dimensional friends.
The audience finds themselves rooting for Spier, but also seeing themselves in his parents, sister and best friends.
The movie also has twists that keep its audience hooked. After reading an anonymous post on his high school’s gossip site from a boy that admits he’s gay, Spier strikes up a friendship with the writer over email. Eventually, this friendship turns into love, all with the two boys not knowing each other’s identities. Spier signs his name as Jaques. His love interest is known only as Blue.
Fans of the book that the film was based on, “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli, know from the start who the mysterious Blue is. People seeing the movie without that knowledge get a fun dose of mystery as they— and Spier —try to figure it out. There’s also a subplot of romance within Spier’s friend group, and that situation is only slightly less as confusing to figure out for the audience as it is for Spier’s.
“Love, Simon” plays some rom-com tropes straight— the typical high school party, the school musical having a much too fancy set, while turning others on their heads— stopping a football game to profess your love in real life probably would lead to ridicule, and the movie lets it.
It’s an LGBT movie, but it’s also a really good teen movie.
According to GLADD, 18.4 percent of movies released by major studios in 2016 contained LGBT characters.
Even less of these films were seen as having good or even adequate representation of their LGBT characters in the GLADD study.
LGBT people rarely get to see representations of themselves on the screen. It is even rarer that the representation that they do get ends up being positive. In a world where straight people can see themselves in every genre imaginable, this movie is extremely important.
According to an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Robinson, who plays Spier’s brother, felt comfortable coming out to him because of the film. For many young LGBT kids who may see themselves in Spier, the movie is an inspiration. It is a message that things can be okay for them; that they can get the happy ending too.
“Love, Simon” has a great ensemble cast, showing fully flushed-out characters and relationships. It has a pretty danceable soundtrack. It will make you laugh out loud, say “that’s so me” way too many times, cheer and cry both happy and sad tears.
For all fans of coming-of-age movies, it’s a must-see.