MovieTime: Love, Simon and A Quiet Place
Today was my first movie review spot for ABC Newcastle 1233. The segment only went for 10 minutes, and I can’t believe how fast I ran out of time! I’ve been slacking on the writing (especially blogging!) front so I thought this would be a great opportunity to give myself a great big kick up the backside. So here I am, actually dedicating some time to doing the thing I like to tell everyone is my job even though I actually spend the majority of my time grooming guinea pigs and listening to podcasts.
Love, Simon (M)
“Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier it's a little more complicated: he's yet to tell his family or friends he's gay and he doesn't actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he's fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing.”
Watching this movie was honestly just such a wholesome and life-affirming experience.
I didn’t expect a lot from this one, and in fact when my friend told me she had been looking forward to seeing it, I had to check we were talking about the same film. I guess I don’t expect a lot from teen movies. I’ve just come to expect them to be packed full of stereotypes, problematic portrayals of sexual ‘norms’, lazy jokes, and clichés.
Don’t get me wrong – Love, Simon is PACKED with clichés. A booming teen house party, an overblown proclamation of love at a sporting event, and some questionably enormous American houses.
While staying true to these teen movie staples, Love, Simon manages to skip over the crappy sexist jokes, the bitchy cliques, the misogynist representation of sexual “accomplishment” and the dreaded “makeover” trope – and instead tells a story which is smart, warm, funny and honest. The overall effect is one of reassurance. Maybe the world isn’t in such a shit-hot mess after all. Is this the kind of media the next generation of consumers will come to expect? We can only hope.
At the core of this coming-of-age story lays two key factors: Simon is falling in love – and Simon is gay. Throughout the movie, he contemplates how best to come out to his friends and family, as well as the unfairness of it all. Why is “straight” the default?
Unfortunately, in an act to deflect some attention after a public humiliation, Martin – our gross antagonist – publicly outs Simon without his permission.
Some critics have noted that Simon’s friend’s, family’s and school’s response to this news of his sexuality is perhaps a little idealistic*. It’s true, Simon and his social situation are racked with privilege (hello giant house and beautiful parents), but none of this felt “Hollywood naïve” in any way. The movie is smart, and it knows you’re smart too. Simon seems keenly aware of just how lucky he is.
Needless to say, the majority of cases of homophobia Simon does endure are implicit – people being inappropriate as a result of their ignorance, as opposed to them being outright hateful. Simon’s coming out isn’t used as a plot point to incite confrontation or conflict. Instead it’s used to explore his relationships with his immediate community with nuance and humour.
The whole story is beautifully told, and the cast is rich with relatable and likeable characters. By the end, the whole theatre (yes, including me) was cheering when Simon finally was united with his beau.
Please watch this movie and make all the teens in your life watch it too. It’s rated M but there is no sex or nudity and only one bad swear, promise!
- Props to Tony Hale for his confusingly adorable portrayal of a teacher trying (and failing) a little too desperately to be “woke”.
- OMG the scene with Simon and his mum. ALL OF THE TEARS.
MY VERY IMPORTANT OVERALL OPINION ON THIS MOVIE: 8/10
*Sneaky note: I just listened to the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode on Love, Simon and one of the host’s daughters (8th grade) thought that it was strange that there was only one openly gay kid in the whole high school. So maybe the movie wasn’t optimistic at all – but perhaps old fashioned! I guess it depends a lot on WHERE in the US you are as to what attitudes towards sexuality and gender are like…
A Quiet Place (M)
“A family lives an isolated existence in utter silence, for fear of an unknown threat that follows and attacks at any sound.”
Although I’m not really one for horror movies, one of my all time favourite films is 28 Days Later – which is undeniably a horror movie. What I love about it is the tension, the atmosphere, and the photography. Most of the plot points and devices have been seen and done before, so it’s not particularly novel, yet it still feels sickeningly real.
But A Quiet Place had it all.
On top of its slickness, and all the boxes it ticks (I’ll get to those, and there are many), A Quiet Place is hugely original. The premise is extremely simple and extremely smart.
“If they hear you, they will haunt you.”
Within the first few minutes of the opening scene, you know the Abbott family are afraid. And, despite you having no idea what it is they’re afraid of, you’re afraid right along with them. The movie opens in a pharmacy, where the family are gathering medical supplies. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is carefully sliding pill bottles along a shelf, delicately adjusting their positioning so as to read the labels. Ten seconds into the scene, I literally clasped my face in fear as I realised the level of tension I was in for.
Do not buy noisy snacks to eat during this movie. It’s 95% silent – the family mostly communicate with sign language (it’s subtitled). The eldest child, Reegan (Millicent Simmonds) is deaf, and this is undoubtedly a key factor in the family’s survival up until this point. Significantly, Simmonds is a deaf actress, as Director Jon Krasinski explains, “I didn’t want a non-deaf actress pretending to be deaf. Most importantly though, because a deaf actress would help my knowledge and understanding of the situations ten-fold. I wanted someone who lives it and could teach me about it on set.” Hoorah, inclusivity and three-dimensional female disabled characters!
For the survivalists out there, the post-apocalyptic world-building is something else to admire. Monopoly is played with felt-shapes and colourful pom-poms, characters hop soundlessly over dried leaves scattered on floorboards (a result of years of dextrous practise, no doubt) and pathways are laid out in sand and tread upon by bare feet.
On top of all this delicious tension and believable dystopia, the movie also explores themes of familial relationships and parenting. The characters aren’t just struggling to survive in a world of super-monsters, they’re struggling to be a family. It’s one of the many benefits of the cold-open – we aren’t given any explanation as to why these monsters are here, they just are. The family have adapted to the monsters’ presence and now they’re just trying to live as normally as they can. They play together, learn together, eat together, explore together – grieve together.
Jon Krasinski and Emily Blunt have a wonderful on-screen partnership (BUT THEY WILL NEVER COME CLOSE TO JIM AND PAM)…and Krasinski is heartbreakingly adorable as always (sorry).
Horror movies tend to get a bad wrap for being overly blunt and perhaps tacky (hey, that’s what I expected from this one!), but A Quiet Place is just a carefully planned and nuanced story of love, family, bonding and…scary-ass monsters which hunt sound.
MY VERY IMPORTANT OVERALL OPINION ON THIS MOVIE: 8/10