UK Release Date: 18th August 2017
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: J Mills Goodloe
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson
Synopsis: A young girl who has always been confined to her home as a result of a rare immune system disorder finds her eyes opened to the outside world when she falls for the boy next door.
The young adult weepie has become a genre in itself, most notably with the hit John Green adaptation The Fault In Our Stars. Few of those films, though, have been quite as high-concept as Everything, Everything, which sees us transplanted into the life of one young woman completely cut off from the rest of the world. It’s a strange story that doesn’t quite hold together, but it does benefit from a pair of charismatic, believable lead performances that make this an emotionally satisfying tale.
Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) has never left her house, under the orders of her doctor mother (Anika Noni Rose). She has constructed a sterile, infection-free home because her daughter suffers from an extreme immunodeficiency disorder that makes her vulnerable to everyday bacteria and illnesses. Her only content with the outside world is through her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera) and now, aged 18, she is beginning to want to explore the world further. This only intensifies when she bonds through text messages with boy next door Olly (Nick Robinson), whom she desperately wants to meet in the flesh.
It would be easy to be cynical about Everything, Everything. This is a film that is calibrated precisely to appeal to the YA crowd, right from its doomed romance central plot to the casting of Hunger Games alum Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson of The 5th Wave in the lead roles. However, it’s also a sweet and inventive piece of work from director Stella Meghie that does interesting things with the material and knows exactly how to make a potentially short-lived teen romance feel like the most important thing in the world.
Amandla Stenberg is believable and heart-breaking in the lead role. She’s an entirely lovable protagonist, with clear intelligence and spark. Her chemistry with Nick Robinson – who was so brilliant in The Kings of Summer a few years ago – is electric and the banter between the two of them has an infectious wit and energy that makes you root for them throughout. Their relationship is mostly established through text messages, which could have been dull but for the ingenious conceit of rendering these chats as conversations within the models of buildings Maddy constructs in her home, including a diner and a library.
Stenberg and Robinson feel as if they are absolutely perfect for each other and so there’s a genuine emotion to the film’s attempts to throw a spanner into the workings of their relationship. Scenes in which they are able to be together have a euphoric, escapist quality and a straighter romance story than Everything, Everything with these leads could well have been just as entertaining. Indeed, it’s the necessary contrivances and twists of the YA novel source material that cause the film to fall apart like a soggy pastry in the final third.
Like so many of these YA stories, Everything, Everything is a story that works best when it focuses on its central relationship. It doesn’t lose the plot nearly as much as The Space Between Us, from earlier this year, did in its third act, but the mounting pile of twists obscure and dilute the significance of the simple adoration the two protagonists seem to have for each other as they tentatively grow closer. That said, with the messy conclusion of the plot set to one side, this is an enjoyable movie that, while cutesy, will cause all but the hardest-hearted cinemagoers to shed a tear… or several.
Pop or Poop?
The plot of Everything, Everything is its own worst enemy, but the central relationship has a spark of believability that enables the emotional heart of the film to form, even with the shaky structure of plotting that surrounds it.
Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson are both real talents and the work they do in this film is so enjoyable that it elevates material that could otherwise have felt cheap and manipulative. By the end, they have done more than enough to make this a genuinely heartfelt tale with an emotional punch.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.