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« This Summer Has "The Incredibles", Too | Main | Months of Meryl: A Cry in the Dark (1988) »
Thursday
Apr122018

Blueprints: "Love, Simon"

This week, Jorge takes a look at an early version of two of the most emotional moments of the groundbreaking teen movie.

“You get to exhale now.” This has become the phrase that has encompassed Love, Simon the best. The loving, healing words of a mother that allows her son to finally be himself. This, alongside the other heart-to-heart Simon has with a parent, is the most moving moment of the movie. 

However, as discussed before in this column, the road from page to screen is a long and arduous one. A screenplay goes through many different forms and iterations, gaining and losing things along the way. Let’s take a look at these two sequences, Simon’s conversations with his parents, and see how differently they began and how emotionally similar they remained in their finished form...

Love, Simon
Written by: Isaac Aptager and Elizabeth Berger
Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The two key conversations that Simon has with his parents were not always charged with the emotional power and reassurance that ended up on-screen, bolstered by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel’s sincere endearing performances. In fact, both of them were much smaller moments; more of an exchange of sentiments and implied support than the emotional catharis in the movie. 

With his mother (who was named Denise in this draft, but was eventually changed to Emily, like the novel), the exchange happens as Simon is about to head to school after being outed. She tries to use her “therapist’s voice” on him, but knows that is not what he needs. She instead shares a story of how self-assured and confident Simon was as a kid, and that this should be no different. “So today, you go in there, and you remember you’re Simon Spier.” It’s a sweet moment of motherly support, where she reassures him that he is the same person, even in the face of all this change.

While this sentiment stays the same in what would eventually end up on screen, that conversation is much more heartfelt and raw. Simon’s mother delivers the now iconic “holding your breath” exchange as a way of letting his son know that it is okay for him to fully be himself now. He is the same person, even in the face of all this change. What was basically an unsaid emoton in the script slowly evolved into one of the most touching reactions to a coming out moments we've seen...

 

 

 

The same thing happens with the exchange between Simon and his father, Jack. There are some obvious differences between the script and the page, like the fact that it takes place in a car instead of outside the house. But it follows the same pattern of working as an essentially in-passing reassuring conversation in the early draft, that later evolves into an emotionally flooding moment in the film. The film takes the implied details of first pages and has the characters actually say them.

Jack’s sincere apology about the gay jokes through the years is expanded in the film, as is his reassurance that he will love Simon no matter what, “in case the message got lost somewhere.” The script also has some idiosyncratice details that were eventually scrapped, like the inclusion of Sam Smith as an awkward touchpoint between dad and gay son. But we got a Grindr shoutout instead!

 

***

 

Scripts evolve. Character names change. Lines of dialogue are taken out, and/or added later. There are rewrites, reshoots, improvisations. Rarely is a screenplay replicated on screen the exact way it was written. However, if the film is well done and the screenplay sound, the underlying sentiments and emotions beneath the characters and situations stay the same.

Even though two of the moments that made Love, Simon memorable were not originally conceived as we saw them, the feeling behind them was. Two parents with unconditional love for their kid; believing in him, reassuring him of their love, and using (let’s admit it) some corny but emotionally affecting dialogue to say it. It worked out just fine. We can all exhale now. 

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Reader Comments (3)

Those two scenes made me cry the hardest. So well done from all the actors and the script, although it seemed really unrealistic to me that the mom would wait days (weeks?) before having this talk with him. He comes out on Christmas and they don't talk about it the rest of the day? There were a lot of weird time jumps in the movie, but I digress. These scenes were good.

April 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Loved this movie. The scenes mentioned were inspiring and heartfelt. I suggest that everyone support Love, Simon as much as possible and see the movie again in theaters and take a friend!

I clearly recall going to the movies in 1982 to see "Making Love", another ground breaking gay film but too bad it took so long to get to Love, Simon. In between we had very few great LGBT+ films and a tremendous amount of rotten ones. We all know that the history of cinema is chock full of negative gay characters and villains. Hopefully the tide is turning at last. I think I was born 40 years too early.

Thanks to Jorge for the great article.

April 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGay Senior

Just love this movie!!!

April 14, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

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