Film Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I’d Like Very Much To Write About You. Your Society…”

Winning the award for most convoluted title of the year so far, Four Weddings and a Funeral director, Mike Newell, returns with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a big screen adaptation of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ 2008 novel of the same name which sees Lily James’ (Cinderella) awfully well-spoken but deliriously likeable Julie Ashton, a well-to-do and moderately successful English writer, venture over to post-war Guernsey in order to embed herself into the titular organisation as research for her next literary project. With a cinematic sensibility which reeks of similarity when it comes to moderately successful contemporary Second World War dramas including Their Finest and Churchill, Newell’s latest is a ridiculously twee and wickedly harmless romantic drama which revels in its’ overt Britishness and an unbelievably predictable and paint-by-numbers screenplay, one which seems to be primarily designed to please audiences admiring the film with a slice of cake and cup of Earl Grey on a light and breezy Sunday afternoon.

With an opening twenty minutes which introduces James’ Ashton, the audience is made privy to her recent literary successes and close separate relationships of professional and personal boundaries with both the attentive, publisher figure of Matthew Goode’s (Stoker) Sidney and the charming American soldier, Mark Reynolds, as played by Everybody Wants Some!! highlight, Glen Powell. After receiving a letter from Michiel Huisman’s (Game of Thrones) farmer type, Dawsey Adams, under the umbrella of the titular gang of Guernsey residents however, Ashton swaps war torn central London to the rural heart of post occupied Guernsey where she attempts to unravel the mystery of Jessica Brown Findlay’s (Black Mirror) missing society founder, Elizabeth McKenna whilst slowly falling for the rough and rugged winner of most attractive cinematic farmer ever in the form of Huisman’s Adams. With a supporting band of merry well versed actors including Penelope Wilton (Doctor Who) and Tom Courtenay (45 Years), Newell’s movie never alleviates from being anything other than perfectly fine, and whilst at times the predictability weakens the film’s final product, the film forever linked with one of the worst titles ever just about ticks over.

Overall Score: 6/10

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TV Review: Westworld – Series Two Episode One “Journey Into Night”

“The Stakes Are Real In This Place Now. Real Consequences…”

With the debut season of Westworld being the televisual definition of a slow burner, Johnathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s small-screen re-imagining of Michael Crichton’s 1973 cult classic of the same name was still undoubtedly yet another rousing success for HBO, albeit one not quite in the same league of the likes of The Wire, The Sopranos or Game of Thrones as of yet, but with one of the finest hours of television the twentieth century has seen thus far to conclude its’ initial ten episode run, it sure has been an agonising wait to comment on the inevitable follow up which finally arrives this week. With the second season under the subheading of “The Door”, the premiere sees a wide range of narrative strands which pick up after the aftermath of last season’s concluding bloodbath, with returning key characters and new faces alike attempting to bridge the gap between what went wrong and who ultimately is to blame for the collapse of the once apathetic hosts, and with the use of differing timelines, a cornerstone of Westworld’s storytelling, being utilised once again to slowly answer the many questions raised from its’ stellar first season, it’s no surprise that the return of Westworld reminds you how puzzling and utterly captivating the show can be when hitting full stride.

Opening with a telling and foreboding past discussion between Jeffrey Wright’s Arnold and Evan Rachel Wood’s once caring and harmless Dolores Abernathy, the action swiftly moves to the implementation of the security team cleanup authorised by Westworld’s overarching company, Telos, and the introduction of Gustaf Skarsgård’s head of operations, Karl Strand, who after locating Wright in his host persona of Bernard, attempts to seek out what caused the hosts to turn murderous and against their basic and fundamental programming. With two weeks past since the death of Anthony Hopkins’ Ford and the loss of total communications since then, the drama switches back and forth between Bernard’s recollection of events immediately after the incident and the present day as he both attempts to hide his true identity from his Telos co-workers as well as understand the radical change his own mind is going through. With narrative swings which attempt to highlight the direction of the season ahead, the discovery of a particular foreign animal and a geographical anomaly nod at the expanding nature of the show which even in one episode has moved from the claustrophobic sensibility which was prevalent throughout most of the first series to a fresh eagerness to explore, confirming show-runner’s Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s comments regarding audience expectations of a much different Westworld season.

With the inevitable return of Wood’s Abernathy and Ed Harris’ Man in Black, now revealed to be the older presence of Jimmi Simpson’s William, both characters seem to be revelling in the new world that has been created for them, with Abernathy being contaminated with the mind of Wyatt to the extent that the killing of “innocent” guests has now become second nature and her newly found freedom resulting in her declaring her wishes of exploring worlds’s outside of her own, hand in hand with James Marsden’s Teddy, whilst William’s own freedom allows him to revel and shine in a world which has finally hit the dangerous levels he has always desired, with his character tempted once again by the ghost of Ford who tasks him with attempting to locate yet another puzzling destination. With Thandie Newton returning as Maeve, it is her particular subplot which surprisingly lessens the quality of the drama, with her reluctance to kill off Simon Quarterman’s agonisingly annoying character in order to locate her lost artificial daughter being the stand out narrative strand which really could be shortened or erased completely, even with Newton’s commanding on-screen presence. As far as season premiere’s go therefore, Westworld kicks off in tantalising fashion with a wide range of interesting plot points to expand upon, and with a clear new direction in which exploration is key, the quality which concluded the first season has thankfully continued on.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: Rampage

“Hell Of A Day, Huh? Science Experiments Falling From The Sky…”

Ever so slightly based on the incredibly retro arcade games of the same name which began all the way back in 1986, Brad Peyton (San Andreas) returns to the big screen with Rampage, a CGI ridden reunion with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) which sees him front and centre of a science experiment gone massively out of control, resulting in gigantic, destructive beasts being let loose in the heart of Chicago. With the arcade game instructing players to destroy everything and anything in their wake whilst famously controlling an oversized gorilla in order to move on to the next level, Peyton’s movie features a screenplay which attempts to sew together some form of genuine narrative around such, and with the aid of a seemingly unlimited digital effects budget and the presence of Johnson who always seems to lure in the big bucks, such a feat has somehow been accomplished, albeit one far from a standard of quality for the movie to be considered at all successful. With endless mind-numbing action, a ludicrous and thoroughly stupid narrative, and some ropy examples of both effects and acting alike, Peyton’s movie is annoyingly not the fun blockbusting entertainer one may have hoped for, and whilst the movie may not have any issues at the ticket stand, the film seems only to work to a particular audience of which I can proudly admit I bear no chance of being part of.

With the film struggling to hold together a rafter of intertwining plot threads throughout its’ overbearing 100 minute runtime, the first half hour attempts to build up the central relationship between Johnson’s Davis Okoye, a retired soldier turned primatologist, and the albino gorilla, George, whose presence is managed through a mix of effects and Andy Serkis-inspired motion capture, and with it difficult to think of anything other than Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its’ subsequent critically acclaimed sequels when it comes to a cinematic relationship between man and ape, Rampage does manage to hold its’ respective bond to a solid and passable degree. Unfortunately for the rest of the movie, come the latter two-thirds when destruction upon destruction is the central focus for a staggeringly dull and unpleasant period of time, all the good work is undone and the film essentially becomes an amalgamation of Pacific Rim, Transformers and all the other bloated works of cinema which don’t earn their decision for utter and ultimate destructive chaos. Throw into the mix truly awful performances from the likes of Jake Lacy (Their Finest) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen), with the latter essentially just doing his role of Negan from The Walking Dead, Peyton’s mix is a real uninteresting work of nonsense which fails to capture both the enjoyment of the video game in which it derives from and the guilty pleasure sensibility in which it undeniably should have aimed for.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: Truth or Dare

“The Game Is Real. Wherever You Go, Whatever You Do It Will Find You…”

With Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions obtaining worldwide popularity after the critical success of Jordan Peele’s Oscar winning horror, Get Out, last year, it very much seems that the company are willing to tackle anything and everything with a slight horror genre infliction, no matter how weak the subject matter, with a penchant for prioritising quantity over quality as well as gaining a reputation for being the physical manifestation of a paint-by-numbers horror conveyor belt. With Truth or Dare therefore, directed by Jeff Wadlow of Kick-Ass 2 fame after apparently “spitballing” an opening idea with the hierarchy at Blumhouse, it’s fair to say that Oscar success is not exactly on the horizon any time soon, with the movie akin more to the likes of Blumhouse disasters such as The Gallows and Sinister 2, and even with a somewhat interesting premise in which our leading horny, social-media addicted and majestically beautiful college “teens” are sucked into a murderous entity’s sick game, Truth or Dare fails entirely as a work of horror to the extent that if sold as a comedy, it perhaps would have been much more successful.

Predictable from the outset, Wadlow’s movie begins in terrible and perfunctory fashion, following Lucy Hale’s (Pretty Little Liars) Olivia and her merry band of followers including Tyler Poser’s (Teen Wolf) Lucas and Violett Beane’s (The Flash) Markie as they make there way across the Mexican border in order to experience their final spring break. Cue visit to creepy dwelling, the discovery of satanic rituals and exposition galore, the next sixty minutes moves into a Final Destination territory as we witness each of the friendship group take their turn in the titular game which is forced upon them by an evil entity who breaks free in the form of whacking great smiles, a laughably awful effect which is even coined as “the worst snapchat filter ever” by one of the victims and forces them to adhere to the rules with a punishment of death if anyone rejects to playing. With the jump scares weak, the sense of threat non-existent and one of the biggest cop-out resolutions ever seen on the big-screen, Truth or Dare is unsurprisingly terrible, even with a somewhat likeable leading lady in the form of Hale, but with tacky genre tropes, a rafter of cliches and a dull, overly repetitive narrative, Wadlow’s movie is a game really not worth playing.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: Blockers

“Our Girls Are Not Thinking Things Through. I’m Going To Stop Them…”

Directed by cinematic first-timer Kay Cannon, whose previous credits lie solely on each of the screenplays for the highly successful Pitch Perfect trilogy, Blockers is a ripe, rude and well-meaning coming of age American comedy which features Leslie Mann (How To Be Single), Ike Barinholtz (Snatched) and John Cena (Daddy’s Home 2) as three out-of-touch parents who attempt to thwart their respective daughter’s plans for prom night after discovering a “sex pact” between them whilst generously snooping on their online, social media based conversation. With Bad Moms showcasing that preconceptions regarding American comedies sometimes shouldn’t be entirely faithfully adhered to at all times, Blockers is yet another fairly successful U.S based romp which not only manages to mix a heartwarming soul with well-worked elements of ludicrous comedy, but also develops its’ characters of both generations to a telling degree that each works as an individual rather than a two-dimensional caricature, and even if at times, the narrative dwindles into a wacky mix of saccharin sweetness and silliness with a runtime which overplays its’ hand for at least twenty minutes longer than necessary, Cannon’s movie is a solid and enjoyable directorial debut.

With Cena’s Mitchell playing hilariously against type, with his imposing, muscular demeanour being offset with a personality which cries at the first flicker of emotional weakness and favours tucked-in chequered shirts and easily mocked crew cut haircuts, and Leslie Mann’s Lisa Decker ferociously abstaining against anything to do with her daughter’s ascent into adulthood, it is left to Barinholtz’s Hunter to steady the ship, with his character heeding the warning of the consequences of his fellow parents’ actions, even when his own strange, sometimes excruciatingly awkward personality promotes him as the worst father figure type imaginable. With big-screen newcomers, Gideon Adlon, Geraldine Viswanathan and Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird) as the troublesome trio of teenagers eager to rid themselves of their sexual innocence, their superb chemistry also aids the film’s sense of appeal, particularly in regards to their familiar and overly contemporary use of youthful language and prom night experiences, and with the movie balancing all of its’ characters with empathetic ease, Blockers is the type of movie which yes, is of course not the most original or entirely captivating in history, but for a hundred minutes swing, is wickedly enjoyable and earns kudos for featuring the best naked BDSM game scene in comedy history. Yeah, that’s the selling point if ever there was one.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Death Wish

“How Did Faith Work Out For Those People..?”

Acting as a more than unnecessary reboot of the Michael Winner 1974 film of the same name, torture porn aficionado, Eli Roth (Hostel, Knock Knock) takes control of Death Wish, a ridiculously mainstream B-Movie attempt which swaps Charles Bronson for Bruce Willis as Dr. Paul Kersey who wreaks havoc on the criminal fraternities of Chicago after his wife and daughter are caught up in a robbery gone violently wrong. Forged around a screenplay by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, The Grey), Roth’s latest is a strangely inert and viciously edited piece of nonsense which although fails to live up to perhaps the levels of incompetence many would suspect, is still a cliched and generously predictable ninety minutes with a Bruce Willis on hilarious form with arguably his worst on-screen performance in his entire career thus far. With vigilante justice a mainstay of cinema and television alike, with John Wick: Chapter Two and Netflix’s thoroughly entertaining The Punisher released in the past year, albeit one delayed due to questionable murmurings regarding its’ violent tendencies, the argument for whether yet another film depicting the horrors of U.S gun control in a day and age ripe with high profile massacres and murders is simply one I tend to stay away from, with instead focus directed primarily on the film as a work of cinema, rather its’ place in the overriding social stratosphere.

Unfortunately for Roth however, his decision to focus wholly on the power of violence and delights of retribution without any flip-side or depth to the film’s leading character is where the movie ultimately fails, with Death Wish oh so quickly falling into a pattern of an on-screen violent murder followed by minimalist discussion through random radio off-cuts and then quickly back to yet another violent death without any real sense of purpose or character development other than just Willis’ Kersey simply acting as cannon fodder for the film’s plodding progression. For example, in a remarkably misjudged scene, Willis’ Kersey enters a gun store with a busty, flirty female sales assistant happily flouting the power of the many weapons on show with Kersey questioning how easy it is for him to purchase such weapons, a question which I, and perhaps the entire audience, assumed would then proceed to satire the sordid state of affairs American gun control is currently in. Shockingly however, this discussion then leads to a scene later in the movie when Kersey returns hand in glove with a desire to purchase everything and anything in order to violently massacre whom he sees fit, showing that in fact, Roth’s view of the American weapon fascination is only for the greater good. With the film so obviously edited to fit under the umbrella of the 15 certificate that at times the picture jumps frames so violently you feel as if you’ve been shot yourself, Death Wish is still not exactly terrible and at just over ninety minutes, is sort of bearable to some degree, but with lazy decisions and a god-awful Willis, Roth’s movie is still utter nonsense.

Overall Score: 4/10

Film Review: You Were Never Really Here

“Joe, Wake Up. It’s A Beautiful Day…”

Introduced to the ways of Scottish director Lynne Ramsay back in 2011 with the jaw-dropping, unrelenting and unforgettable We Need To Talk About Kevin, her Terrence Malick sensibility of putting the audience on hold for whatever project ultimately comes up next has resulted in a six year long wait for You Were Never Really Here, a similarly twisted and powerful crime thriller based on Jonathan Ames novel of the same name and featuring Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice) as Joe, a retired war veteran with a tortured psych and suicidal vulnerability who is tasked by a U.S State Senator in hunting down his young daughter who has been in lost in the seedy underbelly of a contemporary and morally duplicitous New York City. With We Need To Talk About Kevin setting the ground-rules for audience expectations when it comes to the mind of a director unafraid to tackle hardened and controversial subject matters, You Were Never Really Here is a hallucinatory, startling and entirely captivating work of art which merges genre within genres and results in ninety minutes of sheer white-knuckle tension and a collection of set-pieces which will rank up there with the best evidence of cinema audiences will see this year.

With narrative similarities to Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic, Taxi Driver, something of which many have commented on already, Ramsay’s latest is much more infatuated with the harrowing mind of its’ leading character, the brutish, bearded and morally conflicted figure of Phoenix’s Joe, a subverted private investigator whose specific speciality seemingly lies in locating lost children, a career choice somewhat channelled by his own troubling childhood and past traumas, elements of the movie which are highlighted in sporadic, sometimes terrifying flashbacks which couldn’t help but evoke the ghostly imagery of the The Shining, particularly in the film’s final act in which we see Joe scour the surroundings of an Overlook Hotel-inspired residence and is greeted with physical manifestations of his numerous nightmares. With the film reeking of style and a Winding Refn infused sensibility, the Jonny Greenwood score topples even his own outstanding work on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, with a mix of screeching strings and new wave electronica perfectly pumping up the emotion with one stroke and then creating an unbearable level of hostility and tension with the other, and with Thomas Townend’s luscious, vibrant cinematography creating a staggeringly beautiful landscape for Joe’s character to be absorbed within, You Were Never Really Here is a real treat for the senses.

Whereas We Need To Talk About Kevin was constructed around a revisionist tale of the creation of man into monster which relied heavily on backstory and flashbacks, You Were Never Really Here only utilises these elements in an short and snappy basis, with the narrative much more linear in nature, and with the style and substance both accompanying each other majestically hand in hand, to call the movie anything other than heartily fulfilling is a complete and utter falsehood. Boasting extraordinary set pieces including a violent rescue attempt shown only through the ghostly image of CCTV cameras and a The Shape of Water-esque funeral scene which will be hard to to top as the most heartbreaking scene this year, Ramsay’s film is a stunning achievement, one which features Joaquin Phoenix at a level of acting that’s hard to better, and one which lives long in the memory after the final credits begin to appear on screen. With the seven year gap between her last and recent release, it seems Ramsay is indeed a filmmaker who desires quality above all else, and after experiencing You Were Never Really Here, for that is what the movie undeniably is, a groundbreaking experience, it comes at no surprise that her latest venture is very much worth the wait.

Overall Score: 9/10

Film Review: A Quiet Place

“Who Are We If We Can’t Protect Them? We Must Protect Them…”

Utilising arguably the most basic and fundamental element of horror cinema since the inception of the genre at the turn of the twentieth century, John Krasinski (Detroit) stars, writes and directs A Quiet Place, a thrilling and genuinely unnerving apocalyptic creature feature which mixes survivalist adventure with threatening terror and one which is held together by a key and tightly held plot point regarding the use of silence and the deadly consequences that arise whenever the rules of such an element are broken. Transferring their relationship in the real world into the landscape of the film, Krasinski is joined by Emily Blunt (Sicario) as two grief stricken parents, Lee and Evelyn Abbott, who attempt to survive in the treacherous, ambiguous world that now homes vicious, unrelenting and seemingly indestructible alien creatures who hunt primarily by responding to sound, no matter how small the disturbance may be. Beginning with a gripping opening act which sees the Abbott family scour the dredges of a The Walking Dead inspired future wasteland for resources and goods, the ground-rules for the drama is delicately set, with silence the overarching soundtrack and communication limited to close-quartered whispers and sign language whilst movement too limited to bare foot expeditions and a handy stock of sound reducing sand.

Whilst Krasinski himself has declared a complete rejection at horror movies in the past, the co-written screenplay from himself, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck is undeniably inspired by classic examples of not only the genre of horror but classic monster thrillers too, and with an opening act concluding in a manner which bears similarities to Stephen King’s famous opening tragedy in his magnum opus It, the thrills and spills throughout A Quiet Place are indeed recognisable but still highly effective in to an alarming degree. With post apocalyptic landscapes a common theme in contemporary cinema with the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Road two very different movies at either end of the spectrum in terms of what the genre can offer, the survivalist tendencies shown in A Quiet Place are never lingered upon in attempt to shove the notion of desolation completely in your face, with the narrative instead brilliantly glossing over such in a blasé fashion which makes the audience accept the surroundings in which our heroic family are based without getting solid answers on the cause or what the murderous monsters at the centre of the peril really are. With Noah Jupe (Wonder) and Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck) as the Abbott children, the former’s deafness (something of which Simmonds has in real life) offers in itself a brooding sense of peril, with the soundtrack switching from the background noise of the wild to complete and utter silence whenever Simmonds is on-screen, something of which works particularly well later in the action when her character is somewhat unaware of the power of her unfortunate infliction.

With Blunt undeniably the standout performer of the piece, her own attempts to balance the preservation of her family with the upcoming arrival of a new life results in a standout set piece involving a wince-inducing injury and the worst period of child labour in the history of cinema. With Blunt originally suggesting to partner Krasinski that someone else should take the part, her decision to be involved continues her ability to convey superb performances in a wide range of differing genres ranging from comedy (The Devil Wears Prada) to action thrillers (Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario) and now creature feature horror. Clocking in at a healthy ninety minutes, the pacing of the movie is brilliantly measured, with a hearty, white-knuckle build-up leading to a concluding act which mixes Jurassic Park style set pieces with 28 Days Later inspired terror all happening at a lighting fast paced that come the final credits, you can’t help but feel an extra course would be lapped up more than generously. For a movie which relies on the element of silence and resorts to having dialogue reduced to an absolute minimum, A Quiet Place could be praised on its’ own for just being a superbly brave mainstream exercise, but with top-notch performances all around, a wondrously creepy premise and come the end, a strangely heartwarming familial tale, Krasinski’s movie is a resounding and genuinely unnerving success.

Overall Score: 9/10

Film Review: Ghost Stories

“Things Are Not Always As They Seem…”

Adapted from their very own play of the same name which premiered back in 2010, Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson swap the stage for the screen with Ghost Stories, a Hammer Horror inspired creeper which mixes a mock-documentary style narrative with elements of the portmanteau cinematic medium which has worked incredibly effectively before in the horror genre with the likes of V/H/S and it’s juicier, more experimental sequel arguably being the more contemporary standout examples. With Nyman himself assuming the lead role of Professor Phillip Goodman, a single minded debunker of the supernatural who is tasked with solving three individual and unexplained cases designed to test his ignorance of the paranormal, Ghost Stories takes the audience through an exhausting check list of every classic horror trope in existence as we move from one case to the next, with each investigation creepier and weirder than the last, and whilst most movies which form a narrative around very well-worn and rusty horror cliches more often than not tend to be complete and utter disasters, take Winchester this year alone for example, Ghost Stories works impressively due to a ripe and over-the-top sensibility which is simply too much fun to disregard.

Supported by a variety of tip-top British talent including Paul Whitehouse (The Death of Stalin), Alex Lawther (Black Ribbon – “Shut Up and Dance”) and the mighty Dr. Watson himself, Martin Freeman (Black Panther), their respective characters each provide the details of their own individual supernatural experiences including a haunted Session 9 inspired mental institution, a meeting with evil and an interaction with the freshly dead. With manically timed and alarmingly impressive jump-scares throughout, the horror elements are wickedly managed and at times, unrelenting in nature, and even when the film does suffer terribly in its’ opening quarter due to a wandering direction and lack of grounded involvement, as soon as we begin to interfere in our leading character’s draining investigations, the haunted house of a thrill ride adequately begins. Concluding with a final act which twists the film on its’ head and forces you to gasp at the sheer absurdity of where and how the action ultimately unfolds, Ghost Stories is a stellar success and a future British Halloween classic, one which both will please mainstream audiences and aficionado horror audiences who although are used to the thrills the movie offers, will lap it up in spades.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: Love, Simon

“I’m Done Living In A World Where I Don’t Get To Be Who I Am…”

With Barry Jenkins’ outstanding big-screen debut, Moonlight, breaking fresh cinematic ground last year by being the first Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards to not only feature an all-black cast, but to have a LGBT centred narrative at the heart of it too, it seems almost incredibly quaint to finally be seeing a strong wave of widely different styled movies which focus on expanding the boundaries of romance within contemporary mainstream cinema as we know it, somewhat making up for the infamous misstep of handing Crash the Best Picture gong back in 2006 when pretty much everyone assumed it was heading in Brokeback Mountain’s direction. Adapted from Becky Albertalli’s 2015 novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda”, Love, Simon, directed by DC’s Arrowverse writing and producing stalwart, Greg Berlanti, follows in the footsteps of Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name by being yet another success story with a predominant LGBT storyline, one which sees Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) as Simon Spier, a repressed gay teenager who attempts to come to terms with the world’s reaction to his possible social revelation whilst seeking out the identity of the mysterious “Blue”, an online pen-pal who has used the luxury of the internet to express his sexuality and whom Simon slowly begins to fall for.

With a warm, chocolate sweet high-school sensibility which takes heed of classic coming of age movies such as the entire John Hughes back catalogue and the more modern examples such as Easy A and The Edge of Seventeen, Berlanti’s movie focuses heavy on the core relationship between Spier and his close-knit group of friends, with the screenplay allowing each character to have enough breathing space to be both convincing and engaging, even when it seems the parent figures of both Josh Duhamel (Transformers) and Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club) are seemingly left aside to pick up the crumbs in both metaphoric and literal terms come the end of the movie. With smart, crackling teenage quips and a steady handed tone which doesn’t dwell on the the nature of it’s romance in a sickly sweet saccharin fashion, Love, Simon instead works on the simplicity of its’ storytelling and the dedicated performance of its’ cast, particularly that of the impressive Robinson who manages to convey a rainbow of conflicting emotions with staggering ease, and even when the movie comes full circle and does end with a slight tinge of predictability and Disney-fulled cheesiness, Berlanti’s movie will leave you pleasantly surprised and see you departing the auditorium with a Joker-wide smile.

Overall Score: 7/10