Love, Simon (2018) Review 

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Bryson Pitts, Nye Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Skye Mowbray, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Starkey, Clark Moore, Joey Pollari, Mackenzie Lintz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

My Opinion:

I recently read the YA novel this movie is based on (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – review HERE). I enjoyed the book and would say it’s one of the better YA romances I’ve read recently so was looking forward to seeing how well they did with the movie adaptation (even though romance isn’t really my thing). I have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is possibly slightly better than the book. It’s close.

They did change quite a few details from the book, which doesn’t always work for people who want to see the story in the exact same way. For example: They added more humor to the movie (a lot of this via a vice principal who didn’t exist in the novel) and Simon has only one instead of two sisters. The changes don’t negatively affect the overall story, though. Simon still feels like the same character from the book and the romance still works well. Actually, Simon feels a little more “real” in the film. His internal struggle is also somehow more apparent and believable in the movie. I think Nick Robinson has done a good job with Simon as it’s not often that a movie character feels slightly more fleshed out than the book character. His family also feel closer in the movie and I liked that they spent plenty of time focusing on his relationship with his them as well as with his friends.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good teen book and/or movie. If you’re a reader, I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. There are enough changes that it’s worth knowing both stories. Overall, the film is slightly better and the characters feel more realistic but I far prefer the ending in the book. I’ll of course avoid spoilers but the film adds a little too much drama to a final scene, making me prefer the more likely scenario in the book. This scene was the only time the film felt a little false, though. Overall, the topic is handled very well. The movie uses humor and sensitivity and thankfully never goes over the top on drama. Being from the John Hughes generation, I can’t say I’m going to be able to fully relate to a modern teen movie but I’m glad that current teens have films like Love, Simon. It’s a good film with enjoyable characters and I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many current teens. Judging by its 8.1 rating on IMDb, it seems to be a favorite already.

My Rating: 7/10

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Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies:

The Frame, The Fits & Before I Fall Movie Reviews

Here are three quickie reviews for three more movies before I post my 2017 end-of-year lists. Two are 2017 (UK release) films & I try to review all current movies by the end of the year. The other one is just one that I really really liked. Here we go…

The Fits (2015)

Directed by Anna Rose Holmer

Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Da’Sean Minor, Lauren Gibson, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers, Antonio A. B. Grant Jr.

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Toni (Royalty Hightower), an 11-year-old tomboy who struggles to fit into a girls’ dance troupe, which begins to suffer from an inexplicable epidemic of violent fits.

My Opinion:

This film is a hard one to explain. It’s indie as f*^k and I’d never ever recommend it to anyone other than hardcore film fans (like you guys!). Yeah, it’s one of those festival films so it’s 2015 but was only released in the UK this year. It’s good. It’s “arty”. Royalty Hightower, who plays the “11-year-old tomboy”, is the best thing about it. From what I read, a real life dance team was found for this film and Hightower was one of them. She feels very real, probably due to the fact that she wasn’t an actor. I think, with young people in films, it’s sometimes better when they aren’t from an acting background as actors can come across as too fake.

I watched this because I was intrigued by the synopsis (and also because I was short on time & it’s only 1 hour & 12 minutes!). I read this at Wikipedia, which explains where director & writer Anna Rose Holmer got the idea for the film:

“While developing the script, Holmer was inspired by real-life stories of communities succumbing to fits of hysteria. She first became interested in historic cases of mass psychogenic illness and conversion disorder while producing Ballet 422 (2014). Examples of outbreaks of seizure-like attacks and uncontrollable spasms date back to the Middle Ages, but there are still cases of this occurring today. In 2007, a group of high school girls in Virginia suffered from “twitching arms and legs” that eventually resolved itself. Holmer’s research into this subject, specifically cases like the Dancing Plague, and the pattern of these fits emerging amongst young women inspired her to explore the nature of this subject in a coming of age dance-film.”

Bizarre. I’ve never heard of this sort of thing. Anyway, if you watch this, don’t expect a straightforward exploration of this topic. Or any exploration whatsoever. The film is quite atmospheric, which is something I enjoy but won’t be to everyone’s taste. This probably isn’t a great comparison but this film reminded me a little bit of the feeling I had while watching Picnic At Hanging RockPicnic is certainly the better film but I liked the mysterious tension throughout The Fits. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it but I have to say this is one of those movies that you’re unlikely to watch more than once and a lot of people would find it very slow & be frustrated by its lack of explanation. It’s very well made and I loved its originality, however, and I liked how “real” the characters felt. I’d be interested in seeing more films made by Anna Rose Holmer. 

My Rating: 6.5/10

Before I Fall (2017)

Directed by Ry Russo-Young

Based on Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Jennifer Beals, Diego Boneta, Elena Kampouris

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s losing.

My Opinion:

Teen movie based on a YA novel! Once again, I’ll admit to still enjoying teen movies & YA fiction. Us adults were teens once – we can still relate! I was actually going to read this book before the movie but gave up after having it on reserve at the library for ages. Yeah, the library! I’m a library nerd. I realized fairly recently that, like, you can read books from there for free. 😉

Anyway. This is Groundhog Day with the twist being that this pretty teenage girl has to relive the last day of her life over & over again. She tries to make changes each time to see if she can stop the cycle, which always results in her death at the end of the day. Zoey Deutch plays the main girl. She’s so adorable. She looks soooo much like her mom Lea Thompson!

I really enjoyed this movie. It certainly won’t be winning any Oscars and the plot felt far from original but I love the “Groundhog Day story” that has been done so many times (I badly wanted to see Happy Death Day this year as well but didn’t manage it). It’s always fun to see the different ways this storyline can play out. I’m not sure why this didn’t come out in cinemas in the UK like it was originally meant to as it’s better than half the shit that gets a cinema release.

I can’t give this a higher rating as I have to admit that, while it’s fun & I liked it far more than I was expecting, it still felt quite shallow. The whole point is that Deutch’s popular character starts to see what life is like for those in her high school who don’t have it as easy as she does. Her boyfriend and her circle of friends are the popular assholes that most of us despised in school. Deutch is the “nice one” of the group anyway so it feels unfair that she’s the one with this fate. The story also feels a bit too forced and the characters are extremely one-dimensional. Other than Deutch, everyone is a “popular asshole!” or “unhappy & uncool nerd!”. Teenagers are more complex than that. Still, I liked this movie. Deutch has her mother’s charm. Also, this movie has a Grimes song in it (Genesis)! I love Grimes (I wrote about her HERE). I’ve included the video for Genesis at the end of this post.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Frame (2014)

Directed & Written & Music by Jamin Winans

Starring: David Carranza, Tiffany Mualem, Cal Bartlett, Christopher Soren Kelly, Anthony Nuccio

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two strangers find their lives colliding in an impossible way. Alex is a methodical cargo thief working for a dangerous cartel. Sam is a determined paramedic trying to save the world while running from her past.

My Opinion:

I loved this movie. One of my favorite blogs here is mossfilm because he’s introduced me to a lot of great obscure sci-fi movies that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. The Frame is one of these films. I’m not going to say a lot about it as his review is PERFECT (you can read it HERE). This is my favorite genre and I love when we get a film like The Frame, which feels truly fresh & original. It’s a bit arty smarty-pants but I loved the story and the fantastic visuals.

I don’t know how to discuss this one without giving too much away. The mossfilm review does say a bit about the plot if you’re interested. I think, if you love this genre and like to see a story which will surprise you & keep you guessing, you may be best going into this one knowing as little as possible. I’ll say that it tackles some interesting themes (like faith & fate) and I think it’s one from which different viewers will come away with different questions and feelings about it. For me, I saw it as a very unique love story and I thought the two main characters were fantastic (Alex the cargo thief played by David Carranza and Sam the paramedic played by Tiffany Mualem). Others will see it as something far deeper than the simple love story at its core (and it is) but, more than anything, the story itself is damn good. I watch a lot of movies so I get bored seeing the same predictable stories over & over again. I want more stuff like The Frame. I’ll never forget watching it, whereas I forget half the mainstream movies that I watch a year or so after seeing them.

I so want to talk more about this movie but I’m trying to avoid spoilers! Can someone else please watch it so we can discuss it?? 😉 The Frame is currently available on Amazon Prime Video in the UK & I highly recommend checking it out before it disappears since it’s an obscure one that could later be hard to find. Here’s a spoiler-free way of describing it: The Frame is like a really good long episode of Black Mirror. But more arty. And what I’ve seen of Black Mirror so far is great. Watch The Frame.

My Rating: 8/10

There are a couple of trailers for The Frame. One gives away too much of the story so I don’t recommend that one. The one below shows only images from the film. Still, I recommend knowing nothing beforehand but this is the safer trailer if you’re interested:

And this is the video for the Grimes song Genesis in Before I Fall. It’s weird. I love it.