Love, Simon ★★★

I’m happy that this exists, even though its cornball coming-out drama consistently toes the line between willfully blind and self-absorbed, blandly wholesome and naive. Most teen kids simultaneously think that they are perfectly normal yet somehow the center of the universe and the dramatic material that’s presented here cannily plays with both of these universally relatable conceits. That’s at the expense of the specificity of Simon’s homosexuality, of course, which is presented as something that must constantly be managed, in a manner of countless issues-based movies of the week. As such, the film can’t rely on romantic chemistry and instead derives most of its emotional peaks from moments in which straight people assure Simon that they’re totally okay with his identity. This exercise gets tiresome, and even though the melodrama resolves into a communal détente by the film’s end, the final shot's pan upward to a city skyline suggests that Simon will ultimately be a man apart from his would-be utopian community.