I am on side with any movie that includes the Kinks’ beautiful Waterloo Sunset on its soundtrack. The song, so perfectly chosen, is heard early and in its entirety (unusual in itself) when seventeen-year-old Simon (Nick Robinson) discovers that he has an anonymous but sympathetic online friend who shares with him a suffocating anxiety about being outed as gay. Simon’s confidante goes by the name of Blue, while Simon protects himself with the alias of Jacques, and the mystery of who Blue is becomes the hook on which director Greg Berlanti hangs this tender, sharply observed and embracing film. As a senior at high school, living with a happy family in the leafy burbs, nobody has ever questioned Simon’s sexuality. To his intimate circle of friends he is straight, just like them, and the more he keeps his true nature from them the more he is torn up inside. Eventually, Simon finds himself at a crossroads when the overbearing Martin (Logan Miller) inadvertently stumbles on his secret and threatens to expose him if he does not do him a favour. Self-preservation is a powerful instinct and Berlanti does not shy away from having Simon betray and manipulate those closest to him in order to avoid becoming publicly humiliated. There is so much to love about this movie, not least of which are the performances, so fresh and endearing, of Robinson and the young actors who make up Simon’s gang – Katherine Langfrod, Alexandra Shipp, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr – as well as Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as the parents who didn’t see it coming. You recognise and care for them all. When championing the cause of minority groups, cinema is too often strident in delivering its message, but this movie arrives at a fine balance between the comfy and the edgy, with comedy thrown into the mix by Tony Hale’s whacky deputy principal. Its hopeful world-view might be through rose-coloured glasses, but it is a joy, and the reveal of Blue’s identity is absolutely unpredictable. Don’t miss it.
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