I started a new job in Worksop recently and moved to the town over the weekend. On my first evening, I was bored so decided to visit the local cinema for the first time. I didn’t know what they were showing, but eventually went with re-watching “Love, Simon”, a film I had only seen three days prior.
Now I will stress that despite now watching it twice, enjoying it both times, “Love Simon” is not my favourite film of the year (even though it is currently the only film I’ve watched more than once this year). To help me rank films at the end of the year I am giving them all scores out of 10 as it will save time with me doing it in December, and out of the 28 films I have watched so far in 2018, it ranks number 5. There are main reasons why I do like it, including the soundtrack including several tracks from one of my favourite bands, “Bleachers” (the specific songs are “Rollercoaster” when he first gets in the car and “Wild Heart” towards the end and in the trailer), and that it is very realistic.
For those who are unaware “Love, Simon” follows Simon (funny that), a teen in his final year of high school who tries to juggle grades, his social life and the fact that he is secretly homosexual. Another student anonymously reveals himself to be gay on the school website as well, and the two start a conversation via email, but neither is aware of the other’s true identity. Meanwhile, the socially inappropriate Martin finds the emails and blackmails Simon, forcing him to try and set him up with one of his friends.
*Spoiler Alert* – The forced setting up fails and Martin eventually reveals to emails to the whole school, outing Simon against his will. He eventually decides to come out to his parents and tries new things, such as a new wardrobe. He eventually meets up with the anonymous writer and the two start a relationship. *Spoiler Ends*
So anyway, for those that have never read this website before, or those that don’t know me in real life or via the internet, I am transgender. Now I know that’s not the same as being homosexual (despite what some uneducated people may think) so there are some differences, but the way the film portrays Simon’s thoughts and feelings throughout is not only comparable to my situation, but it is downright accurate.
I came out to friends (although a select few already knew) and family in 2012 at the age of 27. There is a specific line in the film that sums up what the time before that was like, “I’m supposed to be the one who gets to decide, who, when and how I get to say it. That’s supposed to be my thing!” As most people in the LGBT community will tell you, coming out to friends and family is the most difficult decision you can do. It is something we live with for a long time and it is hard.
Everything that Simon goes through in the movie is genuine, such as the trepidation of responding to the email and the nervousness that comes from revealing your inner-most thoughts and feelings to someone. Even seemingly minor decisions are ones that people from the LGBT community have been thinking about for hours, days, weeks, months, etc.
Despite that being a major plus, it definitely isn’t the main thing that the film does right, that a lot of other LGBT films don’t, is that it portrays Simon as a fully-fleshed out character. He has other stuff going on in his life other than his fledgeling relationship and decision to come out. That alone is something that is largely unique in films of an LGBT theme. I won’t claim to be an encyclopedia of LGBT films, but a lot of them often portray the relevant character as not really having much else about them, they’re just one dimensional in that aspect. Some of these characters are seemingly only defined by their sexuality and taking that away from them would leave very little else.
Such recent examples include Marilyn in “Battle of the Sexes”, Adam in “4th Man out”, Wallace in “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, Phillip in “I Love You, Phillip Morris” and many others. Whilst in the real world there are some people who are consumed by their LGBT, seemingly not talking about anything else, the majority aren’t like that and it is nice to see that a character isn’t treated as such. Granted, I speak about being transgender a bit with friends, but they all know that it is not the only thing going on with me.
Whilst there are large aspects of the story that obvious focus on Simon’s homosexuality, you also learn so much more about him via various methods, some as simple as the music he listens to, right up until the notes are written across the chalkboards that line his bedroom. His relationship with friends, family and teachers isn’t impacted by his homosexuality (well, after the initial shock has passed anyway) and that is so important.
Aside from the central characters, the reaction of some of the smaller characters in the film is very subtle, yet just as important. For example, Mr Worth (the assistant principal) is quite clearly unsure of how to react when he sees Simon for the first time after the revelation of his sexuality, but there is such a minor detail of him wearing a rainbow-themed badge on his jacket that shows that whilst he isn’t sure how to respond, he is certainly supportive. This isn’t focused on by either character in the scene, but it is such a minor detail that it gives depth to a small character.
“Love, Simon” is a great LGBT film because it is about more than just being about that aspect of the character. It is an important film for the community as it shows that the majority within it are not driven by being LGBT and it isn’t their own characteristic.
Below is the trailer.