Monday, 16 April 2018

Film: 'Love, Simon'

Anyone wanting escapist fiction (and why not?) in the portrayal of a non-existent world of enlightenment should be delighted by this - especially its final half-hour where you're invited to swim along in a cloying treacle of conceit in congratulating itself on just how 'nice' people in general are when one comes out as gay (except for a couple of mockers who are brusquely told to shove it).  You see, the world is not so hostile after all! 

Shot in Atlanta, Ga., the film started unpromisingly (and predictably) in high school where all conversation consists of quickfire repartee, and where everyone must have brain functions like quicksilver, so ready is everyone with the speedy, witty rejoinder. 
17-year-old Simon (Nick Robinson) is tormented by the realisation he's carried around for some years, that he's gay and is terrified of anyone finding out because of their possible hostile reactions - both schoolmates and his family of father, mother and younger sister.
While stringing along girlfriends who are likewise ignorant of his 'secret' he strikes up an online rapport with the mysterious 'Blue' who, like him, has concealed his sexuality and doesn't know how to proceed. They share considerable correspondence and emotions on their respective predicaments. But his online correspondence is discovered by one of his annoyingly brash classmates who uses this discovery to blackmail Simon into guiding him to the girl of his choice. 

You'll have gathered from my start that when he is forced 'out' by the action of others and so does come out to his family, the reactions, though initially mainly one of dumbfoundedness - especially his father who belatedly comes round - are almost universally positive. (Would that it were like this for everybody - there'd be no reason for anyone to remain closeted at all!)

Maybe my criticism of the unreality of it all is ungenerous as it 's essentially a 'feelgood' film and has no pretensions to be otherwise. But I felt it was so detached from any world I was aware of that it made me squirm. 

Director Greg Berlanti does what he can with the material and I have no doubt from his earnestness that his heart was in it from the start as comes across on screen. 

I was going to rate it lower than I have done but it would have been unfair to have let it pass with the very same score as I gave for my previous review, 'Ghost Stories'. 
This film has pleased very many people, the majority of them, actually. However, not me...........4.


14 comments:

  1. I had read the same criticism from most of the people who went to see this film. I went to see it anyway, I think that let me enjoy the film because I wasn't expecting anything other than entertainment. Sometimes it almost felt like watching an episode of Glee. Still it reminded me of a lot of the old emotions growing up, I thought it really went over the top at the end. I think this film is geared towards a much younger crowd however and I don't think it's trying to replace Three Billboard outside of Ebbing Missouri. I think the important thing is for the younger LGBTQ generation to hear what the mother tells her son, that they deserve everything other kids get to strive for.

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    1. If it gets those in closets to come out it may well be beneficial, though I do have serious reservatipns about suggesting to anyone keeping it to themselves that if they do declare then everything will be rosy. Once it's out there's no going back. However, maybe such who might have been persuaded to to take this irrevocable action will realise that this is only a film, and not based in any way on fact. I do hope so. Maybe people really do now have more progressive attitudes than I give them credit for.

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    2. Ray, I don't know what it's like where you are but there are a lot of places here that see being bigoted towards gay people is equal to be racist towards visible minority groups. There are a lot of very accepting parents. Even myself out in the country here, at one time would have been dangerous, now most could care less.

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    3. I get the feeling that it's still risky here to declare ones sexuality, though as my social life has been nil for over 20 years now I may well be out of touch with how things ave changed - IF they've changed. There are still regular reports around of homophobic attacks - and in nearby Brighton they have actually INcreased over recent years, though no one can be sure if that's because the reporting of them to the police has correspondingly increased.
      I'd like to think that more people are now accepting, but I've got nothing to judge whether that's so or not as I live the life of a hermit.

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  2. Raymondo
    It reminds me of the inner London Film BEAUTIFUL THING

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    1. Goodness me! I suppose you're referring to the film of 22 years ago? Looking it up I wasn't even sure if I'd seen it (I had) but still can hardly recall anything of it. I dare say that if I ever saw it again it would be like seeing it anew.

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  3. I have yet to see the film, but planned on going in to it with the know of it being a light hearted film. I have enjoyed Nick Robinson in other things here in the states, and hop he will continue to bloom and grow into a good actor. I do think the movie has a good message for the younger generation, even though, around my neck of the wood, being gay is no big deal. Having never been in the closet long....I came out very early...middle school, I can't identify with the feeling of the feeling closeted people have. I count be blessing every day I never had any issues.

    And Beautiful Thing....I enjoyed that one.

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    1. There's not a trace in this film of the pernicious attitude of some (most?) religions, M.M., which adds to its feeling of unreality. That was a big thing with me and was one reason why I only came out when I was well into my 20s (and I emphasise the 'well' bit!). It's not just religion's attitude to the likes of us but how it infects other peoples' attitudes, giving them the 'right' to be obnoxious and hostile. I'm sure things have improved enormously in some localities but I also see that in other places they've have become more divided and bitter, and there was no recognition of that here, giving the whole film an air of unreality. If one accepts that it's more like a fairy tale than anything in actuality, I suppose it can be positive, even heart-warming - but I had too many reservations to make it an enjoyable experience.

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  4. ps...all this talk of beautiful now has me thinking of the film My Beautiful Laundrette.

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    1. Ah, now that really WAS a ground-breaking film!

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  5. I agree! I couldn't sleep after seeing MY Beautiful Laundrette! That may have been the second or third gay film I ever saw at the time.

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    1. Same here, Soooo. I think the first film I saw which portrayed gays as something other than effeminate clowns or untrustworthy or murderous evils was actually 'Nighthawks' - NOT the Stallone action film of 1981 but three years earlier of a gay London teacher coming out to his class. 'Laundrette' appeared in '85 and was certainly one of the very first - followed in '87 by 'Maurice'. 'Love, Simon' doesn't break boundaries as such because those boundaries were broken decades ago.

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  6. It has been a longtime, but I still remember "Nighthawks" and I also remember the confusion between Stallone's film and the British one. "Laundrette" and "Maurice" are classics - unforgetable! I don't believe I've seen any gay-themed film recently that lives up to these three.

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    1. Times move on, Paul - or, in too many cases, moves backwards. From our privileged perspective, those trailblazing films of the late 70s and 80s seem quaint in a way, though we can still recall the pain of the time. (I remember the outcry when the British 'Nighthawks' was allowed to be given a certificate to be shown in any cinemas at all!)
      I think current portrayal of gay characters on film have yet to fully merge into the 'so what?' class rather than being inessential 'decorations' or where their sexuality is at the heart of an issue. We're not there yet but it's getting close. I'll know that progress has been made when a known gay actor/actress is accepted by an audience without demur when playing heterosexual.
      I reckon many would put 'Call Me By Your Name' up there with the best gay-themed films of recent years, though I myself wouldn't.
      For me one of the most memorable such ones was 2011's 'Weekend'. Even though I then rated it with a 'mere' 6.5 (the same as I gave to 'Call Me'), it's still holds in my memory, though that is in no small part due to actor Tom Cullen who absolutely sizzled his way on screen through the film.

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