Latest posts by Oliver Ledingham-Smith (see all)
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- ‘A Monster Calls’ Capitalises On Liam Neeson’s Voice To Deliver The goods - November 21, 2018
Representation is important. And I’m not just talking about female actors getting better roles, or POC being shown in big budget movies. On this occasion I’m talking about representation of those in the LGBTQ+ community getting some notice on the big screen. The majority of love stories deal with your basic guy and girl fall in love scenario. Sometimes the proverbial boat has been pushed out and it’s been girl and girl fall in love. Then, in 2015/6, we got The Danish Girl, which saw Eddie Redmayne take on the role of Lili. But Love, Simon isn’t about any of that. Love, Simon, is about a guy who has to hide his secret from the world for fear of being ostracised by family, friends, and society as a whole. It is perhaps telling that in this day and age of growing acceptance, changing perceptions, literal life-altering laws, and more Pride festivals than you can probably count happening in most parts of the world, that our first guy on guy love story circulates around the issue that the titular character in question, Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), is afraid to come out for fear of retribution, and thus must hide his identity from those who he is closest to – never mind the rest of the school.
If you take away from the fact that it’s an ‘unconventional’ love story, it’s essentially just a group of beautiful people hanging out with each other in their senior year of high school (sorry, British readers, that translates to the second and last year of Sixth Form) and enjoying life, looking forward to the future, and having basic teenager problems that circulate around the problem of being in high school: friends, family, life, and relationships. If there is one ‘fault’ that I can find with this film is that the problems that are portrayed in the movie – whilst realistic and lifelike – are pretty basic, and are the kinds of problems that aren’t as earth-shattering or universe-altering in the grand scheme of things. Sure, it certainly feels as if that’s the case when you’re seventeen/eighteen years old, but after you’ve grown up a bit and become a bit more world-weary and cynical, you realise that those problems are past problems and don’t have to be indicative of how you live the rest of your life. With that being said, it’s a small nitpick, and one that can easily be overlooked because this is a film that’s set in high school, so all the problems that these characters face are at least authentic.
Does that then take away from the overall story and enjoyment that Love, Simon is telling? No. Absolutely not. Are they problems that you can empathise with, even if they’re not problems that you’re facing at this moment in time? Definitely. Furthermore, because of the high school setting, it means that we’re given a plethora of varying issues. Most primarily, though, is the theme of love, and the entanglement of webbed lies and deceits, coverups and exchanges that take place, all with Simon at the centre, all with Simon harbouring his own secret, his own newfound love, and his own place in the world. Even with all the subplots going on, this is still Simon’s story. He forms a relationship of sorts via email with a mystery person called Blue – an alias, because, just like Simon, Blue does not want to have his identity known. And even though Simon uses his own secret identity (Jacques), his emails all end up getting leaked over the school’s blog/webpage, which is this film’s version of a cross between Facebook and tumblr. If you watched the trailer before seeing the movie (like I did), then you’ll know that everything gets leaked, but you don’t know how. If you then go to see the movie, you realise who, as well as how, even though it was probably meant to be more of a mystery. That, in essence, is the fault of the marketing campaign.
None of this would have any consequence – or even be a story at all – had it just been another guy and girl forming a meaningful relationship. The only way to make that clichéd trope at all interesting is to use another clichéd trope of throwing in another guy or girl to make it a love triangle. But because it’s Simon and Blue, it’s a story because it’s different. What the trailer was successful in doing was not spoiling just who Blue is – and nor will I, as not only would that be unfair, but take away the mystery and need to actually see this film. The main theme of Love, Simon is love, but it’s not the sort of love that society has conditioned us to witness in your big budget movies. Granted, Love, Simon‘s budget was only $17 million, and it only grossed $65.9 million worldwide, so in movie terms that’s barely anything. But the main thing is, it’s a start. It’s taking a step in the right direction, it’s having a leap of faith that certainly wouldn’t have happened even ten years ago. We were never going to start off with a movie such as Love, Simon with a huge budget, but that’s okay. And for what it was, the movie is actually pretty darn good, too. Love, Simon is a romance film with lots of love at its heart, and it invites you to enjoy yourself while also showing that love truly has no boundaries.
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