Screen Entertainment

Love, Simon’s winning formula

The pantheon of rom-coms and coming-of-age films is fairly full. 

But it's fair to say that the adaptation of Becky Albertalli's acclaimed book, packs the sort of punch and zing that John Hughes would have been proud of. 

Even if it does inhabit a world where consequences are rarely explored, and everyone behaves in a slightly sanitised way. 

Nick Robinson is American teenager Simon Spier, who, by his own confession is 'just like you.'

He has a pretty normal life, with liberal parents and a solid bunch of friends as he negotiates his way through high school. 

However, as he admits early on, he has a confession - he's gay and in the closet. 

One day, through his school's shared internet, he spies a note from Blue, someone in the school who is also dealing with their sexuality. Simon decides to drop Blue a line and a friendship and connection begins to form - and Simon tries to find out who of his peers this potential love interest could be. 

Genial and harmless, this teen film is perhaps as heartfelt as you'd expect, without delving too deeply into preaching. 

In many ways, it normalises its central message, a touch which makes it worthwhile as Simon negotiates his way through a life that seems relatively perky, happy and overly caffeinated - it's a fantasy take on high school life and the lack of reality over the pains faced by many. 

But that's no bad thing here, as the energy of the piece, coupled with the relative charisma of the lead, and the charm of the relationships manages to carry it all along. 

Sure, there are some grounds for the whimsical dismissal of the whole blackmailing angle which plays out as Simon's forced to try and make one of his female friends like the nerd; and there are certainly issues when conflict arises and is treated in a very piecemeal, narratively necessary way later on. 

Regardless of these minor speed bumps, director Greg Berlanti imbues a good 80 percent of this film with a winning formula that's likely to see it as successful in the mainstream as it wants to be. 

It's still galling that a film like this has to be labelled as the 'gay teen rom com a generation's been waiting for', but Love, Simon makes a case for a degree of timelessness, living in such a world of carefree verve that it's annoyingly compelling. 

In the back third of the film, despite the real representation of Simon's parents when faced with the truth about their son, the film falters and stumbles, fumbling the pass it's been expecting the whole way through. 

But ultimately, what emerges with Love, Simon is the kind of high school film and timeless romcom that's winning for the Insta-generation.  

Friendships feel genuine, interactions (for the most part) feel truthful in a fantasy construct and Simon's arc proves to be rewarding enough. 

Meshing 10 Things I Hate About You moments with solid dependable performances all round (even Veep star Tony Hale's over-the-top principal can't bring it down), it provides the sort of endearing care-free blandness that's rewarding and enjoyable enough to warrant the cost of a ticket. 

Love, Simon

Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Tony Hale 

Director: Greg Berlanti 

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