Friday, 14 December 2018

Love, Simon (2018) - Movie Review’m quite thankful that I grew up in the generation that I did. One where not being straight isn’t seen as much as a taboo as it once was. Oh sure, discrimination persists as it does for pretty much anything that isn’t the norm, but when I came out as bisexual at my high school formal (in response to a gay joke, no less), words cannot express how happy I was that went over as well as it did. It remains one of my few memories from that time that I wholeheartedly cherish.

But even with that said, no matter how much acceptance there is in society for such things, it still feels like a secret that needs to be divulged. "Coming out" is still treated as more of an event than anything to do with heterosexuality, and at a time like high school where one is still trying to figure out what their identity even is, that event can feel terrifying. Even when dealing with people who you know in your heart of hearts would welcome it.

It is this dynamic that gives this film, a coming-of-age story that gives Nick Robinson a romance worth being involved in for a change, a rather uncomfortable normalcy. We are shown a school that shows both acceptance for being gay and the odd try-hards who just see that as worth making fun of. But when the titular Simon learns that someone else at his school is still closeted, the resulting conversations and budding romance has an uncanny intimacy to it. It feels genuine, more so than an awful lot of romances on film this year, and it’s not treated as if they’re fighting against societal norms in their decision to keep things a secret. Rather, it’s because they’re still struggling with the news themselves.

As much as I want to lambast this film purely for the inclusion of Martin, the epitome of all things naively vile about straight society who brings some serious unwelcome awkwardness to the proceedings, even his inclusion builds on the film’s main notions regarding being gay. The fact that it’s a decision that the person themselves has to come to regarding coming out, juggled with the usual apprehension about being one’s self that comes with the act of growing up, is treated as something personal and, more importantly, not anyone else’s business unless that person decides to announce it.

But like any secret, keeping it a secret usually involves building more secrets on top of it. Whatever the reason may be, even if they are founded like with Simon’s own apprehensions, keeping such a core aspect of one’s identity a secret can mean having to become someone else entirely to hide it. And you may not like who that person is, even more so than the idea of being shunned for revealing your true self. It’s a look at aspects of personal and sexual identity that makes for an occasionally cringey (mostly whenever Martin is on-screen) but mainly heartfelt look at what it’s like to live amongst the homo-sapien agenda.

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