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LOVE, SIMON

SYNOPSIS: Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he's gay. When that secret is leaked, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

Review by Louise Keller:
Smart, fresh and funny, there is something endearing about this coming of age story about sexual identity, friendships, family and first love. Based on Becky Albertalli's novel Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, TV writers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker have crafted a deceptively simple screenplay in which the vulnerable voice of its protagonist leads us on a tumultuous emotional journey. While the central theme canvasses the coming out of a gay teen, the film is sure to attract mainstream audiences with its vibrant cast and appealing subplots. The issues, perceptions and emotions may not be new, but director Greg Berlanti plaits the delicate story threads together with a light touch; always leading with the heart.

We are told that Simon Spier (Nick Robinson, superb) has a secret. He is gay. From this starting point there are many revelations, including the identity of the subject of Simon's desire, how his secret is revealed, how a critical situation spirals out of control, the impact on his closest friends and family and how relationships change.

Crucial is the establishment of character and the fact that Simon's perfect family quashes any notion of a dysfunctional family. Simon is even enthusiastic about his younger sister's (Talitha Bateman, appealing) cooking. With Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner as the parents (the former handsome quarter back and high school hottie), this is a family that lives, eats and laughs together. Garner melts our hearts; hers is always on her sleeve. Watch for the scene when her love and concern for her newly outed son shows through her eyes. It may not be as powerful as the father son heart to heart in Call Me By Your Name, but it is moving nonetheless.

As told through Simon's inner voice, the film feels personal. It all begins with an email exchange on a school blog between an anonymous student (pseudonym Blue) who declares himself to be gay. Reminiscent of the establishment of the relationship between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail (1998), it's an effective mechanism that springboards into unexpected places complete with red herrings, guffaw moments and sweetly developed relationships. There are laughs aplenty.

The entire cast zings with special mention to Alexandra Ship as luscious Abby, Aussies Kenyan Lonsdale and Katherine Langford as charismatic Bram and lovelorn Leah and suitably obnoxious Miles Heizer as the cringe worthy Cal. Natasha Rothwell is a scene stealer as the outspoken drama teacher.

Along with a toe-tapping, likeable soundtrack, much of the fun comes from the guesswork in the identity of the mysterious 'Blue'. Will there be a kiss on a Ferris wheel as it reaches the top or will life take a dive and head for the bottom. Laugh and love - with Simon.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

LOVE, SIMON (M)
(US, 2018)

CAST: Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Miles Heizer, Talitha Eliana Bateman, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Tony Hale

PRODUCER: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, Pouya Shahbazian

DIRECTOR: Greg Berlanti

SCRIPT: Elizabeth Berger, Isaac Aptaker (based on the novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Guleserian

EDITOR: Harry Jierjian

MUSIC: Rob Simonsen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Aaron Osborne

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 29, 2018







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