“Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year-old Simon Spier it’s a bit complicated: he’s yet to tell his family for friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online.”
I think this was the first coming of age and romance movie produced specifically with a non-hetereonorm story in mind. I have a lot of positive things to say about this movie so this review might get rather lengthy and is likely to be nothing but spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie and you would rather have certain parts be unpredictable, I suggest you save the reading of this review for once you have seen the movie.
So one of the very first things I will talk about is how emotionally intense this entire movie is. Some of it is really, really good emotions with a happy ending at the end, some are absolute cringe-worthy due to public humiliation, some is sheer amusement in watching high school drama as an almost-forty-something-year-old adult, and some are genuinely heart-wrenching because of how wrong some things in life go.
There are several scenes which are horribly uncomfortable for me because of the insane level of public humiliation, most especially, when Martin steals the microphone during the national anthem at homecoming and confesses his feelings to Abby. While I do appreciate how much courage it took for Martin to do that in front of the whole school, he also embarrassed Abby and put her in a really uncomfortable position where she had to publicly admit her own feelings. The vice principal partially showed some of the mentality of toxic masculinity where he is cheering for Abby to accept Martin’s proposal of dating and this whole situation could have gone very badly. However, he turned the entire situation around by encouraging the school to cheer for Martin, even though he was unsuccessful in his dating request. That vice principal turned around the entire tone of the rejection and made it just another part of growing up instead of a total tragedy. Society right now seems to enable white males to go on a shooting spree when they are rejected by women and I was worried that this movie would have done that, but instead, Martin became a gradually likeable character who understood that what he did was wrong and he tried to make amends for his mistake(s). So when Abby rejects Martin’s dating proposal, Martin is understandably upset and he lashes out in hurt and frustration by posting Simon’s secret gayness to the internet. This event triggers the key turning points for the rest of the movie, with Simon’s friends realizing how much harm he’d caused them and leaving him to deal with everything on his own and Simon losing the only ability he has to communicate with Blue, the other young gay man he’s fallen in love with online.
The other cringey moment for me was when Martin, Abby, and Simon are at the Waffle House and Martin, again, publicly humiliates Abby by standing on the table and being vocal until she say’s that she deserves a super hero. While the end result is that Martin is attempting to do something positive and get Abby to reaffirm that she is fantastic and deserves the best, the delivery leads a bit to be desired.
The characters in this movie were all very well done and felt truly genuine. It was interesting to see a high school coming of age story as viewed from the eyes of an adult, as the adults in this movie behave admirably. The vice principal is amusing in his interactions with the students because he is trying to be someone the students can talk to and yet is still a positive voice of authority. The first day back at school when he sees Simon enter the school, he’s wearing a rainbow flag pin on his lapel. I think he did that in order to show support for Simon and to let him know that school is a safe place to be who you are. Additionally, Ms. Albright was absolutely relatable. As someone who is likely to wind up teaching at some point, I can see a lot of myself in Ms. Albright. She stands up to the student bullies and is hilarious in her depiction of the limits of her occupation. She also mentions very adult problems which amused me greatly.
Martin was a very interesting character. I thought he was going to wind up being a typical, high school movie bully, but instead, it just turns out that he’s a bit socially awkward. He even has a part where Simon goes to his house and Martin specifically says that he doesn’t want Simon’s help changing him but rather that he wants Simon’s help to get Abby to see and like him for who he is. That is also a very powerful statement. You shouldn’t have to change who you are for people to like you but you also should accept rejection when someone just isn’t into you. Martin’s character really grows on you as you realize how hard he’s trying and that he isn’t the high school bully that he could have been if this was a normal high school movie.
Simon, as the main character, went through a lot during this movie. The parts where he was outted by someone else and how he had to deal with the discrimination at school were some of the roughest parts of the movie. I don’t think that anyone who isn’t “other” would really understand how scary and hard that whole section is, but if you’ve ever been someone other than the “standard heteronorm”, the idea or experience of being outted on someone else’s terms is really horrifying. Modern society right now is not exactly a safe place for anyone who is “other” to live and this movie captured the raw emotions exceptionally well. I very much empathized with Simon’s situation, his motivations for doing what he did to his friends, and with his emotional turmoil.
This movie brought up a lot of mixed feeling and thoughts. One of my thoughts revolve around how we live in a disposable society. When Simon is outted and his friends are hurt, they cut him out of their lives. They don’t make any effort to welcome him or to be supportive that is shown on the screen. Instead, Simon goes to pick them up as normal, and they all say how hurt they are and he is left to go to school on his own. He doesn’t even try to sit with them at lunch because he realizes that he hurt them and they don’t want him around. They leave him alone to get bullied and be hurt. We live in a fully disposable culture right now where when people hurt us, we can, and often do, just cut those people out of our lives. While there is definitely a time to cut out toxic people from our lives, how much are we as a society losing by cutting out anyone who has ever hurt us from our lives? I have made and will likely continue to make a lot of mistakes, especially in regards to my interpersonal relationships, and it feels like no matter how much I change, no matter how hard I work, no matter how much I love, I drive away everyone I care about because I hurt them. I am human. Eventually, I will hurt and be hurt by the people in my life. That’s how things go. So while Simon did eventually mend everything with his friends, it’s been my experience in my own life that things don’t generally work out that way for me. Maybe I just don’t deserve it. Maybe people are too afraid of being hurt. I honestly don’t know. But I very much appreciated that Simon got all his friends back into his life by the end of the movie, as well as actually making a connection with the person he loves. Even though all of this feels completely unrealistic for me, I really needed to watch something with a totally happy ending.
Overall, I think this movie is a high four if not a five on my rating scale. I have left this movie on repeat since I bought it last night. I am absolutely happy that I bought it, I have already watched it repeatedly, and am likely to watch it more in the future.