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dir Greg Berlanti
scr Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker
prd Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, Pouya Shahbazian
with Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Talitha Bateman, Keiynan Lonsdale, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Joey Pollari
release US 16.Mar.18, UK 6.Apr.18
18/US Fox 1h50
The good kids: Lendeborg, Robinson, Shipp and Langford
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A fresh take on the teen rom-com, this film harks back to vintage John Hughes movies with its smart, self-aware characters and realistic situations that are both amusing and thoughtful. Based on Becky Albertalli's novel (cleverly titled Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda), the story also breaks ground by taking the central character's homosexuality in stride. So aside from being hugely engaging and very funny, it also carries a powerful kick.
High school senior Simon (Robinson) is a normal kid in every way, except that he is keeping a secret: no one knows he's gay. And there's another closeted gay student writing anonymously as "Blue" on the school website. Without telling his understanding parents (Garner and Duhamel), little sister (Bateman) or best pals (Langford, Shipp and Lendeborg), Simon begins an email correspondence with Blue. But annoying theatre nerd Martin (Miller) discovers his secret and threatens to tell the school if Simon won't help him get a girl.
Director Berlanti cleverly stages this as just another teen comedy, with an energetic, sunny atmosphere that draws out the sparky personalities with plenty of edgy humour and churning emotions. Each of the characters is going through the usual adolescent issues, but Simon's decisions seem to be making things much more complex for everyone around him, while he is dealing with his personal issues completely on his own.
Robinson is perfect as an everyboy who's easy to identify with, as he's nerdy, athletic and cool at the same time. Robinson plays his inner journey with subtlety, so we are equally curious about who Blue might be. His connections with Langford, Shipp and Lendeborg have a nice singularity to them, and some strong scenes with Garner and Duhamel manage to add authentic angles to both the teen experience and a coming-out drama.
Basically, there's nothing here that we haven't seen before. And in a lot of ways, this movie really should have been made 20 years ago. But it's still a pleasure to see a story in which a person's sexual identity is merely a background issue: it has nothing to do with who he is. This is an astute story of a young man discovering the strength to be himself, to live honestly and to find love where it should be. So it can't help but make us sigh deeply, laugh a little and wipe away a tear, all at the same time.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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