Being able to accept a situation you’re in might be tough, but with characters like Maddy (Amandla Stenberg), accepting her situation is a must. Sick with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) Maddy hasn’t been able to leave the house since she was a baby. With only her nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera), and her mother, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), to keep her company, Maddy spends her days reading, studying, and occasionally playing board games with her mother. She’s only ever interacted with other people through the internet and physically, has only seen the world through her floor-to-wall glass windows. And she’s ok with that. At least, she is until she meets the boy next door, Olly (Nick Robinson), and suddenly wants to experience anything and everything.
Based on the book by Nicola Yoon, “Everything, Everything” is sweet and charming, filled with whimsical moments, and a softness that belies the hardship of Maddy’s life. One of the greatest joys of the film is getting to see the world through Maddy’s eyes. We get so used to the world that surrounds and envelops us everyday, that a little bit of that wonder becomes less potent. But with Maddy, the trees, ocean, the freshly mown grass all feel brand new in her eyes. The experience is visceral and wondrous for both her and the audience, with an immersive feeling not unlike uncovering the magic of a previously unknown story.
Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson are wonderful together and share great chemistry. When they’re interacting, there’s nothing you want more for them than to be happy. There’s a deep sense of joy watching them fall in love. Aside from their intense romantic interactions, they also easily portray the awkwardness of their situation at first. In particular, the standout scenes are the ones which take place inside some of Maddy’s mini architectural pieces. As Maddy and Olly chat via text, we get to see them physically interact in a place only known to Maddy and it’s a nice nod to the extent of her imagination. It also allows them to grow their relationship as seen by the audience and outside the confines of texting. It adds another layer and is definitely a nice touch.
“Everything, Everything” plays up on the fact that it’s a young adult romance genre film and it benefits from that awareness. The film has a simple premise and does several things well. However, I do wish the film had focused more on the fallout near the end and more of the complicated dynamics that made up the mother/daughter relationship. On the whole, these things don’t necessarily take away from anything we’re given, especially in regards to the romance aspect. However, there definitely could have been more interactions between Maddy and her mother, if only to establish their closeness and how Olly’s presence creates a distance between them, ultimately changing their dynamic. As it stands, by the time the film gets to the end, some aspects do feel a bit rushed and the fallout feels a bit less substantial.
Regardless, “Everything, Everything” has instances where you can’t help but smile. If anything, Maddy and Olly’s interactions come off as genuine and their portrayals well-executed. They also act like regular teenagers, bogged down by their personal problems, but still full of life, and not too over-confident in the way they carry themselves. It’s refreshing in a world full of teen shows and movies that deprive us of these kinds of portrayals. But however less confident, their interactions are never awkward either. They share a lot of longing looks and conversation and it’s all so very charming that it’s hard to do anything but like them. “Everything, Everything,” with its whimsy moments, its wonder of experiencing the world and love for the first time, and quiet gentleness, is one of the genuinely sweetest movies I’ve seen in a while.
"Everything, Everything," with its whimsy moments, its wonder of experiencing the world and love for the first time, and quiet gentleness, is one of the genuinely sweetest movies I've seen in a while.