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Friday
May192017

Review: "Everything, Everything"

by Chris Feil

It’s not summer without at least once piece of romantic counter-programming, and for the most part Everything, Everything is a cut above the last few years’ offerings. There is a surprising amount of imagination in this tale of teenage love, and more genuine feeling. Its sappier side is kept at a softer level throughout, more concerned with showing the intricacies of blossoming young love than pulling your emotional strings. The film is more organic and modest in its emotional beats, until it turns its back on its own strengths.

Newly eighteen Maddy (The Hunger Games’s Amandla Stenberg) has been homebound her whole life, suffering from SCID, a genetical disorder that makes her essentially allergic to the world at large...

Her sole company has been her watchful mother (Anika Noni Rose - how is she stuck playing moms already?!) and her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera). The adorable and curious new boy next door Olly (Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson) quickly sparks to her, and the two develop a connection that tests the limits of Maddy’s confinement both inside and outside of the home.

What sounds like another trip around the weepy teen merry-go-round is actually quite lovely and compassionately composed. Director Stella Meghie never condescends to their relationship or presents them with typical affected precociousness. Part of what makes Everything so enjoyable is its authenticity.

There’s imaginative wit to their first textual conversations, presented as real dialogue set within life-sized imaginings of the architectural models Maddy has created. It’s a small fantastical touch that nevertheless conveys the transformative rush of first flirtation. Once they are able to share literal space, the connection feels no less charmed.

Like The Edge of Seventeen last year, it’s a relief to see an interracial couple onscreen. Young adult stories are truly leading the charge in showing casting agents and directors how to better reflect the world around us. Race isn’t an issue of conflict here but the film doesn’t necessarily avoid the topic - the glass separating the couple, and likewise Maddy and the outside world, serves the metaphor regardless. Maddy cannot participate with the world the way that Olly does freely, what he takes for granted. When she chooses to step outside, it carries more subtextual weight.

But the film takes all of this understated charm and sincerity and dismisses it with one seriously movie-killing final plot development. For all of the simple honesty the film delivers where its peers often fail, it sure does turn its back on both audience and subject with such force in the final fifteen minutes. The finale is of another (lesser) movie entirely, a complete cop-out and middle finger to the audience that frustrates for its cruel absurdity and how it upends a solid film. Yep, it’s that bad.

Everything, Everything is a teenage romance more interested in the developing relationship than milking audience tears. While that makes for a less heightened film than some might want from their popcorn melodramas, it is a modestly rewarding distraction before its ending sinks the ship.

Grade: C+ (but B for the first 80 minutes)

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Reader Comments (5)

I hadn't even considered this one, since I'm not the target audience for a teen movie. But your review made me read some articles about the director, Stella Meghie, and I ended up seeing this today.

I liked what you pointed out about it. There were lots of good things there, and I wish good fortune for the participants.

I was also encouraged that the audience was as vocal and enthusiastic for the trailer for the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth as they were for the movie.

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