Review: Love, Simon

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Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Converting a popular book into film language is always difficult, especially since the length of a film usually means great moments in the book have to be cut out. While this is true for ‘Love, Simon’, another romance offering by Greg Berlanti, his first adaptation as a director adds much more.

‘Love, Simon’ tells the story of Simon Spier, an average teenager who holds a secret- he’s gay. When a fellow student anonymously admits on the school’s confession blog that he is also gay, the two begin to message each other and form a strong romantic bond. However, when the emails are found by another student who blackmails Simon, every decision he makes could tear him and the mysterious ‘Blue’ apart.

Praise should be given to the screenwriters Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, who turned Becky Albertalli’s frequently witty but substantially more serious novel into a crowd-pleasing chuckle-fest. Many of the funniest jokes were added to the film and the actors do an excellent job of bringing them to life. Nick Robinson plays Simon with a subtle dry wit that makes his deadpan reactions to the other characters’ nonsense all the more hilarious. Mr Worth, a movie-exclusive cluelessly awkward teacher, has a memorably funny performance by Tony Hale. But the crowning achievement of comedy is Logan Miller’s portrayal of Martin, the boy who blackmails Simon. He not only plays the role over-the-top enough to be funny yet not enough to feel out of place but also gives his character a hint of likeability not present in the novel.

That being said, some of the changes work to the film’s detriment. The romance in this romantic comedy is downplayed, possibly to make room for the humour. Many of the sweetest moments in the novel which developed Simon and Blue’s relationship are absent from the film, giving the audience less of an understanding of both characters. This is understandable as many of those moments are conveyed via the emails they send to each other, which are difficult to convey through a visual medium, but it still leaves the romance feeling less satisfying than it could be. I feel like I don’t know these characters and their interests enough. However, the audience in the advanced screening I saw cheered at the romantic moments that were there, so this may be more of an issue if you’ve already read the book.

On a technical note the soundtrack, made up largely of rock, electropop and regular pop, is fun and noteworthy but a little distracting at times. The filmmaking works well but is largely unremarkable, though the use of a blue colour whenever Blue types on his computer is a nice touch.

‘Love, Simon’ is an entertaining, clever comedy that is worth watching. It may disappoint fans of the original 2015 novel who want a more in-depth romance and mystery, but people who have not read it should find this film endearing. The acting performances alone are worth your time.

‘Love, Simon’ is to be released in Australian cinemas 29 March 2018.

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