“Love, Simon” is a film of important milestones. Namely, it’s the first mainstream studio romantic comedy told from the perspective of a gay teen. But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the Fox release is that it’s so ordinary. It’s a classic high school tale — one that minted millions for John Hughes — set in the kind of anywhere suburbia that most viewers will instantly recognize. It’s a fluffier kind of polemic.
Still, the historic nature of “Love, Simon” was front of mind at a tastemaker screening at New York City’s Landmark at 57 West on Thursday night.
“Moviegoers want to see their stories represented onscreen,” said Nick Robinson, who plays the title character, a well-liked teenager who is hiding the fact that he’s gay. “Hopefully, this is not the last. Hopefully, this is the first of many films that show a broader section of life.”
Katherine Langford, who plays one of Simon’s friends, said her only regret is that it’s taken until 2018 for a film like “Love, Simon” to hit screens.
“Growing up, I think this film would have meant a lot to my friends and a lot to me,” she said. “The LGBTQ community is still very underrepresented in terms of media. Although we’ve had some fantastic films that have come out in the last few years, like ‘Carol’ and ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ this really is the first big studio making a mainstream film about a gay teenager.”
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Alexandra Shipp, who portrays another one of Simon’s classmates, said she believes the film can have a substantive impact on gay teenagers who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality and are fearful of being met with hate and rejection if they come out.
“I chose to do the movie because it’s going to save lives and create allies,” Shipp said. “I think that’s something that the world needs really, really badly right now. We’re hungry for it. We’re hungry for education. We’re hungry for representation.”
The crowd at the Manhattan theater was filled with celebrities and prominent New Yorkers, including Molly Ringwald (a Hughes veteran), “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt, Oscar nominee Brenda Vaccaro, “Dallas” actor Josh Henderson, and Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir. Rocker Jack Antonoff, whose songs appear in the film, and director Greg Berlanti were also in attendance.