Tropic Sprockets / Love, Simon

By Ian Brockway

“Love, Simon” by director Greg Berlanti is an adaptation of a novel by Becky Albertali. The movie is emotional, engaging and cheerful. Overall it is a refreshing interpretation of the work of John Hughes, subtle and sneakily sweet without one false note. Even better, although it plays with the trappings of films like “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” it is genuine throughout and never inauthentic.

Simon (Nick Robinson) is a high school senior in the Atlanta suburbs. He has high-energy, caffeinated friends. Everyone seems to like him: he is good-natured, kind and mildly cool, without pretense. In appearance and gait, he slightly resembles a Ferris Bueller type. At first one is led to think this is a conventional teen romcom. But this film is a bit different: Simon is gay.

Although he has a self-deprecating sense of humor and all the right jokes, he feels confined and constricted. When surfing online, he sees a blog about coming out and decides to contact the author who goes by the name of Blue. A correspondence develops, intensifying into a kind of romance.

There is suspense in guessing just who Blue is. Is it Bram, (Keiynan Lonsdale) who hosts a Halloween party, classmate Cal (Drew Starkey), or the waiter Lyle (Joey Pollari)? Simon is unsure.

Jokester and wiseguy acquaintance Martin (wonderfully played by Logan Miller) spies Simon’s emails and decides to apply the pressure of blackmail. Tension increases as Simon becomes uncertain about just how to proceed and the story takes on a refreshing tone of the existential, seldom seen in this genre.

Are his parents as tolerant as they seem and will his friends ultimately turn on him?

The aforementioned Miller almost steals the show as he is funny, devious, charming and spiteful all within moments. Neither good, nor bad, Miller’s character is truly a mixture of things. The supporting characters are just as realistic here, too. Simon has a forever friend in Leah (Katherine Langford) and there is Abby, (Alexandra Shipp) whimsical and precocious.

The story has a great quality in turning almost Kafkaesque when Simon finds himself under the glaring eyes of his classmates, especially since Simon is passive.

Warm, amiable, smart and softly subversive, “Love, Simon” uses the hallmarks of 90s comedy and makes it new through its sheer feeling and entertainment. It is a sweet unexpected surprise that never disappoints.

Write Ian at ianfree11@yahoo.com