Everything, Everything: Sappy Young-Adult Romance Has its Moments
Amandla StenbergAnika Noni Rose...
In 1 Cinema
As story of a romance between a young girl suffering from a severe immune disorder and a ‘boy next door’, Everything, Everything tries to do absolutely everything it can to pull at your heartstrings. Based on a 2005 young-adult novel written by Nicola Yoon and directed by the Jean of the Joneses’ Stella Meghie, the film boasts an interesting and surprisingly fresh premise. Unfortunately, though, while its innovativeness is appreciated, it’s over sentimental approach and lack of focus, isn’t.
Meet Maddy Whittier (played by the charismatic Ms. Stenberg who first made her appearance as Rue in 2012’s Hunger Games); an eighteen-year-old girl suffering from SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency). As a result of this rare disorder, she hasn’t left her hermetically-sealed home in over seventeen years. Left under the care of her personal and sympathetic caretaker, Carla (Reguera) – the only human apart from her mother that she has any real physical contact with – Maddy longs to meet other people and experience life outside her home.
Her life, however, soon changes when a handsome floppy-haired teenager, Olly Bright (Robinson), moves into the house next door. With their bedroom windows facing each other, it doesn’t take long for the teenagers to develop a friendship via text messages before their connection eventually develops into something much more. With Carla’s help, Olly is soon brought in for a house visit and Maddy soon begins to ponder on the idea of what would happen if she stepped outside and see what the world has in store for her.
Reading like your typical teen romance drama – think The Fault in Our Star only more wishy-washy and less tragic – Everything, Everything has everything that a young-adult audience expects to see. However, although rather standard in terms of plot-points and structure, the film does offer a certain freshness and a couple of unexpected twists.
Moreover, the idea to use a creative visual tool to bring Maddy’s rather active imagination to life as well as a seemingly innovative way to wash over the dullness of having to watch teens exchange text messages, is refreshing while the story’s third act – when the teenage rebellion begins – is when everything begins to fall apart.
Taking the story down a highly improbable route, one can’t help questioning the way the story escalates – just how they managed to escape to Hawaii sitting at the top of the list. The script’s overly sentimental approach doesn’t help its case any further, but the film’s strongest features lie with its two leads who do their very best to overcome the story’s shortcomings with both managing to sustain a certain levelheadedness and credibility in the face of all the sappiness surrounding them.
Sweet but relatively sappy, Everything, Everything will mostly speak to the young-adults in the crowd who will find the story and the material right up their alley. It’s everyone else we’re worried about.