Release Date: May 19, 2017
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: J. Mills Goodloe, Nicola Yoon
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube Hermosillo, Dan Payne, Fiona Loewi, Sage Brocklebank, Robert Lawrenson, Peter Benson, Francoise Yip, Farryn VanHumbeck, Marion Eisman, Allison Riley, Valareen Friday
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes
Production Company: Alloy Entertainment, Itaca Films (production services), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Warner Bros.
Genre: Drama, Romance
As we all know, life isn’t fair. No one can control the world they’re born into, and sometimes we must take the cards we’re dealt and just make the best out of it. It’s easier said than done for some. Though living a life in a box because you’re allergic to everything in the outside world is nearly imaginable. Even though similar tales like this have been told before, it’s refreshing to get a new take on slightly familiar material. That’s what director Stella Meghie (Jean of the Joneses) attempted to put together with Everything, Everything. With solid performances from the two lead roles, Meghie was able to capture a level of innocence that may make your heart melt. If nothing else, you’ll walk away as if you woke up from a pleasant dream of romance you can’t wait to tell your friends about (specifically for women). Though while the execution of the film passed overall, being entertaining, there’s still a level of an unrealistic fantasy that hovers over the final product.
Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) was born with an incurable medical condition that has left her on house arrest since she was born. The only exposure to the outside world she has are windows, television, and the internet. She’s cared for by her loving mother, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), who practices medicine, and the friendly maid, Carla (Ana de la Reguera). These three love each other very much, respect each other’s space, and have a routine of daily duties down pack. You felt comfortable watching these three engage on screen, wishing you could be a part of their happiness even though for Maddy it felt sheltered. The casting decision to bring Stenberg on board was perfect. She’s the most adorable person you could ever meet, and you’d want to defend her no matter the cost. Maddy wouldn’t hurt a soul even if it was in self-defense. She’s a writer and has an extensive list of hobbies, with the best one standing out with her developing modeled structures of distant locations and set ups. This is one way she branches out into life, creating her own worlds inside her home, to cope with her small living space.
This is a great idea to show the different levels of Maddy’s personality, but the use of these structures is where the problems with the film start to arise. Shortly after the introduction of the main characters, Olly Bright (Nick Robinson) moves in next door. He’s a nice, friendly guy that seems to have his head on straight, and it’s inevitable that he’ll meet Maddy and romance will fill the air. For this to be a standout film there’s a necessary buildup of tension that should be addressed to fulfill the anticipation of their first meeting. The problem is it’s far too brief. Maddy has been locked up for years, and the film leads you to believe that even the smallest amount of dirt could put her in jeopardy. So the extremely relaxed approach for Maddy to finally meet a stranger face to face is done without any real thought. Then instead of the characters getting to know each other the old fashion way, Maddy and Olly are thrown in an imaginary illusion of the structures she made to get to know each other. In other words, if Maddy made a model structure for a grocery store, for the first time we see Maddy and Olly engage via texting or phone conversation the film puts them in the imaginary grocery store that Maddy created; which is a visual representation of them texting. This is a distraction and takes away the impact of them getting to know one another through these hard circumstances. Maddy is dying to relate to people outside of her home, and I can’t blame her. It’s completely understandable that she’d rush to jump into the arms of anyone she’s never met before. Though we don’t get to see her excitement from that first encounter, because it’s wasted on an illusion of her meeting Olly in her structure. So when Olly and Maddy do finally meet face to face in real time there’s no impact.
That still doesn’t mean these two aren’t the cutest thing ever. Both are teenagers, and it’s clear that they like each other, but don’t know how to handle the situation. It’s flat out hilarious at times, how Maddy acts in company, seeing this is the first time she’s ever experienced it. You don’t pity her, and you relate to how socially awkward it is for her to meet a boy her age. Her being adorable is an understatement. Though shortly after, realism sets in in regards to these two supposedly falling in love. Really? They just met and literally don’t know the meaning of love, and their first night alone is cute but simultaneously cringe worthy. In the real world, things just don’t go down like that. It can be a lot of fun, but given the resources used for their epic adventure, you ask yourself, “How is this possible?” But you take it in stride, because you do care about the characters without a doubt.
The film is only ninety-six minutes, which it should be. Though for some reason it’s hard to shake the fact that the film is playing it safe without any real stakes of danger given Maddy’s condition. There’s a revelation at some point in the film that should’ve stood out strong, changing the direction of all the characters involved. Instead of it landing a powerful punch, it feels more like an afterthought in the event just to get to the end of the film to deliver a happy ending. You always have to respect what a film is trying to accomplish. Even though a large amount of heart was put into this production, it’s obvious the men and women behind the scenes weren’t going for the best film of the year. That said, I still wish more attention was paid to the details moving the characters and story throughout. Though it’s still a fun time, and a film you’ll appreciate, even with all of its sappy love tropes.