*Warning: Major Spoilers*
Love, Simon is a film based off the popular 2015 novel Simon vs. the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli. The premise of the book and its adaptation was sixteen year old Simon Spier who leads a fairly normal life. He has a wacky family, a great group of friends and is generally a happy person. Except he’s been keeping a secret – he’s gay. And nobody knows. Simon finds a post on Tumblr from an unknown person named Blue at his school which heavily implies they are also gay. Simon finds himself emailing the boy and they begin talking anonymously, until another boy at school (Martin) discovers his emails and begins blackmailing Simon into setting him up with his friend Abby.
The point of the novel was that Simon didn’t know who Blue was until the last forty pages. Nor did we as readers. Now, I understand films take liberties (as they should) but in the film version Simon suspects Bram Greenfeld is ‘Blue’ without any real evidence to back it up. The only inkling he has is Blue likes Oreos, and so does Bram. But would he really make a connection like that considering in the book Simon views Bram as a macho, straight ‘soccer’ player? However this suspicion quickly falls apart when Simon sees Bram kissing a girl (something that never happens in the book) at a Halloween party. Then throughout the film Simon mistakes Blue’s identity two more times, until the second to last scene when it’s revealed Simon was right all along and Bram is Blue. Because Simon had this suspicion initially the ‘reveal’ felt kind of flat to me. I wasn’t shocked. By that point I was kind of expecting it to happen. And considering Bram seemed very relevant in the first half of the film, when his character almost completely disappeared after Martin reveals Simon’s sexuality and his emails to Blue, his disappearance felt deliberate and very transparent. I suspect if someone who watches the film before reading the book, then this ‘reveal’ would be very disappointing for them.
However, I did enjoy the fact Bram was more present in the first half of the film and we even saw them hang out together which (if I didn’t already know who Blue was) I wouldn’t have thought they were more than friends. I thought this was needed, because despite having a shock factor at Blue’s identity at the end of the novel, it still almost felt like they were strangers. Bram was mentioned on a total of five pages if that. I think Albertalli purposefully left him out on purpose so as readers we don’t figure it out too early, but this worked as a disadvantage because I felt I didn’t really see Simon and Bram’s connection at all.
Despite this, my favourite scene in the film has to be when Simon was messaging Blue about coming out and he says he wishes even straight people had to come out to their parents. And it flashes to scenes with Nick, Abby and Leah who all come out as straight, and their parents’ reactions are some of the typical responses a lot of gay people hear. I thought that scene was incredibly funny, but also important. The parent’s responses to that news were, of course, completely crazy. But some people might only realise that because a comment like that is directed at a heterosexual person, not a homosexual person. It’s by physically showing this hypocrisy that we can start to make changes and I commend the writers for adding this scene in. It not only added incredible comedy to the film, but shone a light on coming out issues.
In the book Simon’s parents only seem to confront him as a pair, where in the film they have individual conversations with Simon letting him know they love and accept him no matter what. I think this was an important change, and something lacking from the book. That scene made me feel closer to the parents as characters, and also to Simon’s journey in general. It was something that needed to be presented in my opinion.
It was nice to see a film that promoted the good side of coming out, where parents and friends are all completely accepting. Sometimes we can get pushed down into the dark side of issues, without showing the light. I was thankful a film (and book) could promote a coming out story that, while still had its conflicts, could show how the world and public perceptions have changed quite dramatically even in the past ten years.
The film felt like there was a lot more pressure on Simon. Martin was blunter about his blackmail, Leah’s true feelings about Simon were revealed (whereas in the novel I still don’t know to this day if Leah really liked Nick or Simon – or neither). Simon’s actions were also a lot worse in the film, he actively kept Nick and Abby apart and told him that Abby was interested in Martin. This felt a lot more believable to me why his friends would turn their backs on him because he almost screwed up their relationships. However in the book, Simon only ever kept Martin and Abby in the same room, he left it to Martin to do the talking – which in my opinion – made it seem like his friends had no reason to hate him, because he technically never ruined anything in the book.
If we’re looking at the film as a stand-alone piece (and there was never any book) I think it was a great film. Despite it lacking in a real shock factor at who the mysterious Blue was, there were a lot of moments that made up for the books mistakes. Mostly, it kept true to the book, but added in its own cinematic flares, which I did enjoy. Overall, I’d recommend watching this film if you haven’t already. And if you’ve got this far having not seen it – then I’ve totally ruined the plot for you. But hopefully it’ll still be enjoyable.