Love, Simon (2018) (Reprint) – Ace Mini-Review

This review was first published in the Holiday 2018 issue of AVENues.


Love, Simon
Starring: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp
Written by: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
Directed by: Greg Berlanti
U.S.A., 2018

How good is this movie?

A big, warm, fuzzy hug of a movie! Simon has pretty much the perfect life, and he also has an almost perfect coming-out experience: his sister defends him, his parents reassure him, his friends support him, and his teachers stand up for him. It’s a very different story from Moonlight, but if the Jenkins film is a satisfying three-course meal, this is a very tasty dessert!

How ace is this movie?

This is in many ways a conventional romantic love story, but it differs from most romcoms in that Simon and Blue spend significant time as friends before their feelings turn romantic. Since they meet on line and get to know each other over e-mail, their relationship is also clearly based on more than physical attraction. And, although the romance is the main driving force of the movie, Simon’s relationship with his friends is granted equal importance.

As a coming-out story, Simon’s experience has a lot in common with many ace people’s. Being gay means he doesn’t respond to social situations in the expected way, and being in the closet means he cannot explain this to people. He and Leah talk about feeling like they’re always on the outside of things, like there’s an invisible line separating them from the rest of the world. In Simon’s case, the feeling is resolved by owning up to his gay identity, and he is almost immediately rewarded with a hunky new boyfriend – a rather optimistic ending that may appeal more to alloromantic than to aromantic aces.

It is actually Leah who remains an outsider, and, in so doing, she reflects a different side of ace experience. Although we may assume her to be straight, our only real evidence for this is her crush on one person. In fact, her statement about being “destined to care so much about one person it nearly kills me” suggests that she is demisexual. The unrequited crush side of her experience may be more familiar to allosexuals, but the fact that she eventually takes a back seat (literally!) to her best friend’s romantic partner is one many aces can relate to.

I have mixed feelings about this conclusion. On the one hand, I’m glad that the gay character gets a happy ending, and that he maintains a good relationship with his friends. On the other hand, I wish that the friendship story had been pushed just a little bit further and been allowed to play a bigger role in the happy ending. Still, I am glad that the film avoids giving Leah a consolation love-interest. At the end of the movie she is still single, and the most important person in her life is still her best friend. The film thus provides positive portrayals of same-sex couples, opposite-sex couples, and singles, and it affirms the importance of both romantic and platonic attachments.

3.5 Stars; 3 Aces


Happy Valentine’s Day!

3 thoughts on “Love, Simon (2018) (Reprint) – Ace Mini-Review

  1. sildarmillion says:

    Finally got around to watching this and thought it was so refreshingly wholesome! I say refreshingly because I haven’t had the fortune of watching LGBTQ content that was not … well, at least a little dark or pensive. This was refreshingly lighthearted!

    I also resonated with Leah a lot! It was interesting to me how she said she wished she could be casual and just hook up with whomever was interested in her. I wonder if that feeling comes from her feeling pressured to “be like everyone else” and hook up with people “for fun”.

    Also, I had mixed feelings about the ending. It was all “I deserve a beautiful love story. And you deserve a beautiful love story too.” The idea was that just because they are gay, they should not be denied this beautiful love story … but it’s like, no matter what one’s sexual orientation is, there are so many people who are denied a “beautiful love story” – this movie presents us with a narrow version of what a beautiful love story should look like, and then contributes to the rest of us feeling bad when we are denied a love story like the one portrayed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blue Ice-Tea says:

      “It was all ‘I deserve a beautiful love story. And you deserve a beautiful love story too.’ … but it’s like, no matter what one’s sexual orientation is, there are so many people who are denied a ‘beautiful love story'”

      Something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while but never got around to, so I’ll just summarise it here: I’m struck by how much in modern western rom-coms the characters are really driven to form romantic relationships and see them as crucial to their happiness. I grew up with a lot of classic-era rom-coms (directed by people like Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, and George Cukor), and in those movies characters are rarely seeking out romantic partners. They may even be avowedly anti-romance. When they fall in love, it always comes as a surprise to them, an upturning of their lives, rather than a goal they were working towards.

      Those storylines were very heteronormative in their way (even the most confirmed bachelor will eventually settle down and get married!), but I appreciate that these characters didn’t see romantic love as necessary to their happiness. When they fell in love it was awesome, but when they weren’t in love they weren’t moping about thinking how miserable it was to be single. They were just living their lives. So the message wasn’t so much, “You need a romantic partner to be happy”, as “A romantic partner will eventually turn up; meanwhile, you may as well keep yourself busy.” Maybe I’m just biased because those are the movies I grew up with, but I like that message better.

      In my limited experience, Bollywood movies seem to follow a similar pattern to classic Hollywood rom-coms.

      Also, I haven’t gotten around to reviewing The Princess Bride yet but… Have you seen The Princess Bride? Anyway, one of the recurring themes in the movie is that the love the main characters share is this beautiful, special, wonderful, one-in-a-thousand kind of thing. And even though it’s over-the-top and very romanticised, I really appreciate that. Because what it says is that most people shouldn’t expect to find that kind of a romantic relationship, and should instead give their lives meaning through other pursuits (like piracy! XD ). And so I can enjoy the movie and enjoy the romance between the characters without feeling like I necessarily have to be like them or like my life is meaningless if it looks different.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sildarmillion says:

        I’m struck by how much in modern western rom-coms the characters are really driven to form romantic relationships and see them as crucial to their happiness. … I grew up with a lot of classic-era rom-coms … [where] when they fell in love it was awesome, but when they weren’t in love they weren’t moping about thinking how miserable it was to be single.

        That’s such an interesting observation! I wonder how the trend may have got started and what were the cultural shifts that made society start to think being single is miserable. I suspect capitalism has something to do with it. Make people aspire to something in life to obtain which they would have to spend money / become consumers. And dating typically involves spending money on things.

        In my limited experience, Bollywood movies seem to follow a similar pattern to classic Hollywood rom-coms.

        I find that interesting too. That may be true. I do not regularly watch Bollywood movies so I don’t really know about the trends, however, being from a South Asian background though, the idea of “A romantic partner will eventually turn up; meanwhile, you may as well keep yourself busy.” doesn’t ring true. I feel like the South Asian ethos is … if a romantic partner doesn’t show up, you will have no choice but to enter into an arranged marriage because marriage is non-negotiable milestone in life, and if you are not married, you can’t be happy because society won’t let you forget that you are not married.

        But that being said, the source of happiness/misery is probably viewed differently in these streams of media.

        I have watched The Princess Bride!

        One of the recurring themes in the movie is that the love the main characters share is this beautiful, special, wonderful, one-in-a-thousand kind of thing … What it says is that most people shouldn’t expect to find that kind of a romantic relationship, and should instead give their lives meaning through other pursuits (like piracy! XD )

        But I also didn’t view it this way. Now that you mention, it is true, the movie (or the book) did not try to portray the romance as aspirational. And that might have been partly why it was so over-the-top. But I also didn’t find myself caring much about the love story mostly because I thought it was silly. What I mean is, I did not find the couple compelling because I saw no compelling reason why they made such a good couple, except that for some arbitrary reason they just have this epic love for each other.

        Like

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