I went to see Love, Simon last night. It is a YA rom-com/coming-of-age film based on Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. The book itself was fantastic – I tore through the back 75% of it in one sitting. It was sweet – achingly so – and the mystery of who Blue is was well-concealed until the reveal (at least, it was to me…but I am admittedly not the quickest to pick up on these things). I rooted for Simon throughout the book, and was delighted by the ending. It was, in a word, perfect.
So you could say I had high hopes for the movie.
Now, I will give this a disclaimer: a few years ago, I had a revelation. I realized that movies based on books are just that – based on books. They are not books. So there will be things left out, things added, things changed. And I came to terms with that. I am at peace. I did not expect Love, Simon to be exactly the same as the movie. What I expected was a love story that left me cheering for the protagonist, a love story so sweet my teeth hurt by the end of it, and a love story that did justice to the importance of coming out as a queer teenager in a perfect world. (Because – and it is revealed very early on – Simon’s world is all but perfect. He has very open, liberal parents, super supportive, amazing friends, and is comfortable with most parts of himself, with one glaring exception.) This was definitely going to be an idealized version of a coming out story. I was okay with that.
I am rambling.
The short version of this is that I got exactly what I wanted, expected, and needed from Love, Simon. It, too, was perfect.
Okay, not perfect. I have a few minor complaints. And I’m certain that critics will soon find a way to shred Simon in the way they can often tear apart things. There were some issues – it was, absolutely, a scrubbed-clean version of what it’s like to be queer and to come out as a teenager today. That was intentional, if the director is to be believed (and I do believe him). The movie is portrayed as a sort of callback to the 80s coming-of-age genre. With the obvious difference that Simon is gay.
This is the first teen queer love story to be put out by a major studio. The important thing is that teenagers will see themselves in Simon and know that their stories are being told. That they are worthy of having their stories told.
So what is it about? I will try to do this with as few spoilers as possible. Simon is a regular teenager who lives near Atlanta, Georgia. His school has an anonymous Tumblr, and in late summer/early fall, one of his classmates makes a coming-out post. The classmate attaches his email address, and a nickname (Blue), but nothing else. Simon immediately emails Blue, confessing that he, too, has the same secret.
They begin exchanging emails, and Simon falls in love with Blue. Hard. He spends a good amount of time trying to figure out who Blue is. In his carelessness, Simon accidentally leaves his emails with Blue where another classmate can see, and is quickly blackmailed into manipulating his friends so that these emails aren’t released to the whole world.
It doesn’t go well.
Eventually, Simon’s secret is revealed, in less of a rip-off-the-bandaid way and more of a rip-out-your-heart way. Things just get worse from there for poor Simon.
Of course, this being a romance, things do work out, in the best way possible. In my theatre, people applauded at the romantic crescendo.
My friend, who attended with me, cried during some heartfelt moments between Simon and his parents. I can understand why she identified so strongly with the parents. But I was laser-focused on Simon. I wanted his story to be my story. It wasn’t, and it never will be, but it gave me such an overwhelming sense of hope, optimism, and joy.
Love, Simon is the love story that needed to be told, and I’m so, so grateful for it.
Please go see the movie. Do yourself a favor and see it. Support this endeavor. Show the world, and the studios, that we support queer teen love stories. The more we support them, the more studios will make them. And if you can’t go, buy tickets for the teens in your life who need to hear these stories told. Who need to hear, in the words of Simon’s mom, “You’re still you. And I still love you.”
I could say so much more, but I’ll leave it here. Marie and I are headed out tomorrow night for another viewing (her first). I hope you’ll tell me how you felt about the movie once you see it!