It would be fair to say there’s a lot of pressure on Love, Simon to succeed; it has to portray a positive, yet truthful, depiction of life as a gay man, it has to win over cinemagoers, do credit to the LGBTQ community, get those all-important Rotten Tomatoes on their side, and be a successful box office draw just to be able to get other studios to finance other films with LGBTQ protagonists in the future. Considering all this pressure on this little $17 million film, Love, Simon is a triumph.
It follows Simon, a closeted gay teenager, through his school life, and his inner turmoil over whether or not he should come out to his family and friends. He encounters various obstacles such as one student who blackmails him with the exposure of his sexuality, and his overall quest to identify the other closeted student who he is emailing constantly.
All the way through we see the world through Nick Robinson’s Simon, a performance which at time feels so understated that you cannot help but wonder if Robinson was a good choice for such an important role. But it is this subtlety which allows the focus to shift on Simon’s friends and family and their reactions to his coming out, which is just as much a part of the story as Simon coming to terms with his own sexuality.
As well as being an engaging drama, Love, Simon is a very funny movie. It could give its audience a 90-minute lecture about how hard it is to come out today but it is never this patronising. Instead, it explores being gay in the same way that Dear White People explores race: a serious message and a beautiful heart contained within a fun and light-hearted vehicle. This is a film which among others things teaches the importance of acceptance in a time when we need it more than ever.