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Love, Simon review

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20th Century Fox

Since its release March 14, “Love, Simon” has earned over $43 million in worldwide box office sales, more than double its $17 million budget. As one of 20th Century Fox’s first gay coming-of-age films, “Love, Simon” was a calculated risk that definitely paid off. With its relatable characters, diverse cast and killer soundtrack, “Love, Simon” more than lives up to its hype.

Usually, it’s not that difficult for me to pick and choose my favorite scenes from a movie, but one thing I noticed walking out of the theatre this time was that it was incredibly hard for me to single out a favorite part. I loved how it evoked such strong audience reactions, how it touched on the importance of independence when coming out, even how its soundtrack had everyone mouthing the words instead of fully paying attention to the movie.

Nick Robinson stars as Simon Spier, a closeted gay teenager trying to survive high school with his best friend Leah, played by Katherine Langford, who also stars in “13 Reasons Why.” Both actors have been avid supporters of LGBT rights on their social media and in press interviews, connecting with the film’s targeted younger audience. “Love, Simon” did an amazing job making nearly every character three-dimensional. The laidback communication between characters and narration by Simon helped build specific backgrounds for his family, friends and even his vice principal without overwhelming the audience with information. Even if they had limited screen time, I felt like I knew everybody on a more personal level than just as a supporting cast.

However, the most notable portrayals are done by Keiynan Lonsdale as Bram (and secretly Simon’s online penpal ‘Blue’) and Joey Pollari as Lyle. These two are incredibly important both on and off the screen, because while their characters underwent major personal transformations in the film, so did the actors in real life. Lonsdale struggled to come out as bisexual, so he empathized strongly with a character who dealt with coming out as gay. Pollari, who acted as one of Simon’s possible love interests, actually came out as gay during an interview about “Love, Simon.” With a talented cast and LGBT representation both on and off the big screen, this movie has been described as a ‘huge breakthrough’ in Hollywood cinema.

To me, one of the most important parts of the movie happens during a fight between Simon and Martin, who outed Simon on a school gossip site. When Martin finally realizes that what he did was wrong, he attempts to apologize, only to be met with groans from the audience, who is having none of it. This scene is powerful because it makes you angry that such an important, transformative moment was stolen from Simon’s life. It’s upsetting to see someone you’ve come to connect with so heartbroken, and that really helps stress the point of the movie. Coming out is one of the most important moments in a gay person’s life, and how or if they do it should be completely up to them. This scene, along with Simon’s frustration with the fact that only gay people ‘have to come out’ is reassuring for teens facing similar stressful situations. This moment in the movie has stuck with me, because not only does it contain one of the most important messages in the movie, but it’s an emotional wake-up call as well. Coming out is a choice, and when or where or to whom you do it, if at all, is entirely up to you.

Finally, the soundtrack for “Love, Simon” blew me away. It debuted in the top 40 of the Billboard 200 and at No. 3 on the Soundtracks chart. Featuring recent hits from Bleachers, Khalid, Troye Sivan and The 1975, it also includes classics from Brenton Wood, Whitney Houston and the Jackson 5. I don’t know what I was expecting, but each song went above and beyond in creating a unified, heart-warming and uplifting atmosphere when you listen.

Despite everything I loved about the movie, there were some things that I wish director Greg Berlanti did differently. My biggest issue was with the unrealistic response to Simon’s coming out from his classmates. One day he was being singled out and bullied in the cafeteria and the next he was getting high fives and cheers of encouragement as he walked through the halls. While it was nice to see that his school environment was no longer hostile, it was definitely something you’d only see in a movie. This same issue comes up again at the very end of the movie, when Simon is waiting to see if ‘Blue’ will reveal his true identity. Each time he goes around the ferris wheel, it seems like even more of Simon’s classmates (most of whom we never even see him talk to throughout the movie) are at the bottom, watching, waiting, cheering. In a real-life situation, that many students would never do something like that. High schoolers just don’t care that much about who’s dating who, but while it appeared awkward, it ended up being a very grand gesture, for when ‘Blue’ did finally show up, as he came out and faced one of his biggest fears just to be with Simon.

If you’re looking for a feel good, heart-wrenching movie that may or may not make you cry, don’t miss “Love, Simon.” This movie is changing lives all over the world, so participate in the experience while you have the chance. Simon says everyone deserves a great love story, so get out there and find your own (or see “Love, Simon,” whatever works for you).

The Pwest Pathfinder gives “Love, Simon” an 8.5/10.

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