Directed by: #MarleyJaeger
Despite having been around for decades, it is only in recent years that #LGBTQ cinema has begun to make more regular appearances in the mainstream. From the sublime beauty and heartbreak of Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name to the landmark high school flick Love, Simon, gay characters in film are slowly becoming accepted in the spotlight rather than as a camp stereotype used for comic relief or emotional support. Gaining acceptance in society is one of the main themes successfully explored in the amusing yet thought-provoking #shortfilm Simon’s Quest, which follows the daily life of Simon Blair (Johnny Pozzi), a young gay man and closeted #werewolf struggling to come to terms with his new “affliction”.
Simon spends the film followed by a #documentary crew (Talley Gale and Lucas Brahme), seemingly aiming to help him integrate back into society and improve the public perception of “monsters” who have only recently begun to “come out” to the rest of the world. The #mockumentary format works well, adding humour to the story without straying from the more sombre themes of homophobia and living with HIV. Jaeger takes good advantage of the format through her directing, the camera is often set down on the side filming the three main characters interacting and bonding on the sofa or close up on Simon’s face to highlight the invasion of privacy he is facing in his small apartment.
Pozzi’s performance in particular stands out and creates a solid base for the film. He gives Simon a shy and withdrawn demeanour, but with glimpses of the sociable, contented man he used to be. The discussion regarding Simon’s favourite video game as a child was particularly resonant – casting a light on the ignorance many of us will have been exposed to (or have been guilty of) while growing up. While the dialogue is sometimes a little unnatural, the delivery is well done, with all the actors avoiding overacting these scenes which could have emphasised some of the flaws in the script.
The sound editing of the outdoor sequences lets the film down somewhat while some of the jokes fall flat and risk derailing the metaphor – the fetch scene, for instance, seems particularly out of place. It is in the more intimate moments where the film is both at its most relatable and at its most comical – Simon deliberating over his Tinder profile, discussing his passion for gaming and (baby eating aswangs aside) the scenes at the self-help group.
Although cutting some of the sillier scenes and employing more of a “show-don’t-tell” approach with the script would have hugely improved the film, it is, on the whole, a success – there is a clear and relevant message, assured direction and strong performances all round. The cliffhanger ending reminds the viewer of the challenges Simon is still to face, yet I was left with a sense of optimism for his future – accepting who he is and regaining some confidence were only the first steps for Simon, the rest will follow.