Simple Simon

Simple Simon


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bill Skarsgård is Simon. He has Asperger's. He doesn't like to be touched. This is something he tells people as soon as he meets them; it's best to be safe. Simon has a carefully structured, safe life. When things are too stressful, he retreats into a barrel, a capsule in which he can imagine he is in the peacefulness of space.

Martin Wallström is Sam. He loves his brother. He's the only person Simon trusts. They are both at the age where they're trying to break away, to live their own lives, and when Simon can no longer cope in the family home, Sam lets him move in to his place. Unfortunately this isn't easy for Sam's girlfriend. When things go wrong, Simon decides he is going to find Sam another damn girl; and as in all the best stories, unexpected things happen along the way.

Aspergers has had an increasingly high profile in recent years; we've come a long way since the disability-of-the-week approach of Rain Man and even the understanding but saccharine approach of My Name Is Khan. Here, finally, is a story centred on an Aspie in a realistic situation, presenting him not as a curiosity or an epic hero but as a rounded human being. As he narrates parts of the film, the viewer is drawn very firmly into Simon's world. It's not such an odd place to be. The logic with which he approaches challenging situations is, at least on the surface, faultless. He's intelligent and caring and his dry observations will have you laughing out loud. It's not Simon who's odd, says this story - it's everybody else.

This presents us with another challenge. To what extent do we all seek comfort in predicatability when it comes to films? Simple Simon sets itself up like a comfortable, reassuring romantic comedy, then breaks the rules. As Simon is confounded by developing events, so is the viewer. Can we really find our way back to a safe place by the end?

This is a complex love story, as much about brotherhood as anything else. It's also a fantastic comedy. It's beautifully filmed with a bright colour palette that mirrors Simon's taste in clothes. The dialogue is inspired throughout and the film delicately plays with our sympathies whilst keeping us firmly in Simon's shoes. Some things in life are simple: you should make it a rule not to miss this.

Reviewed on: 27 Jan 2012
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A teenager with Asperger's syndrome embarks on a quest to find the perfect girlfriend for his recently-dumped brother.
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Director: Andreas Öhman

Writer: Jonathan Sjöberg, Andreas Öhman

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Martin Wallström, Cecilia Forss, Sofie Hamilton, Susanne Thorson

Year: 2010

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Sweden


Glasgow 2012

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