By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Opening this week is another film definitely not made for my demographic, but one that still managed to win some moderate admiration from me. Based on the young adult novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything is a teen romance that has a little bit of the expected elements from that type of movie, but does have some interesting surprises and a heart-warming and compelling story which celebrates the importance of discovering the joy of living. With a satisfactory screenplay by J. Mills Goodloe and competent direction by Stella Meghie, the movie is actually enjoyable and not as predictable as I originally thought. In addition, the impressive performances by the cast make the movie worth watching at least once.
Ever since she was an infant, Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) has suffered from severe combined immunodeficiency. Now at the age of eighteen, Maddy has never left her house and cannot have any contact with anyone who hasn’t gone through the sanitation process before entering the home. Throughout her young life, she has been home-schooled and her only connection to the outside world is through her phone or the internet. Maddy’s life gets more interesting when a new family moves in next door. One of the members of the family is Olly Bright (Nick Robinson), a teenage Maddy’s age with whom she becomes instantly attracted.
Curious about why Maddy never leaves her home, Olly contacts her via phone and the two instantly become friends. With the help of her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera), Maddy begins seeing Olly in her home and the two quickly fall in love. The contact between them eventually proves to be too much for her immune system and Maddy becomes ill. Though she recovers, Maddy’s mother Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) forbids Maddy from seeing Olly again. However, Maddy decides that love and experiencing life is more important that remaining locked in a prison.
From what I have read about Yoon’s novel, it seems that Goodloe and Meghie have remained mostly faithful to the source material which will certainly please the fans. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with Everything, Everything. Though there have been several other teen romance movies with someone terribly ill, or someone in a plastic bubble, this movie has some wonderful aspects of its own and some totally unexpected moments that I enjoyed. Thankfully, the movie never gets ridiculously corny or melodramatic with the drama and romance playing out rather naturally and realistically.
Actors Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson share a beautiful chemistry together and deliver exceptional performances. Anika Noni Rose also offers an outstanding performance as Pauline, Maddy’s loving, but very protective mother. Ana de la Reguera is also wonderful as Maddy’s caring nurse and confidant Carla. The film also features great appearances by Taylor Hickson, Danube Hermosillo, Dan Payne, and Fiona Loewi.
The movie also offers some valuable life lessons about real courage, the appreciation of life experiences, and the negative side of overprotective parenting. Pre-teen and teen girls will definitely enjoy this film, but this movie is so sweet, charming and affecting that even the hardest of hearts and the more cynical movie goers should like what this movie has to offer. I recommend that parents taking teens and their friends to this movie stick around and watch this one. As for those adult males who don’t have teens and don’t want to look out of place at this film, this one is worth a rental.