- Nikki Baughan
- 14 August 2017
Initially amiable and inventive teen melodrama which takes a turn for the unpleasant
Adapted from the young adult novel by Nicola Yoon and directed by Stella Meghie, Everything, Everything plays like a fairly standard teen drama with a surprisingly unpleasant sting in the tale. Maddy (Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in the first Hunger Games film) is a charming, funny, intelligent and beautiful 18-year-old, who suffers from a severe immune deficiency disease which sees her confined to her California home, only able to keep in touch with the world via the internet and her smartphone.
When the smouldering Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, however, Maddy is immediately smitten and his attentions gradually inspire her to push her boundaries – to the consternation of her physician mother Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), who is determined to keep her daughter safe, no matter the cost.
Combining a fairly typical teen girl fantasy – the love of a sensitive boy, which is powerful enough to overcome even a potentially fatal disease – with the familiar adolescent trope of taking those first tentative steps towards adult independence, this is, initially, an amiable-enough melodrama which makes the most of its gorgeous locations and peppy, likeable leads. Such qualities are augmented by the lovely, inventive production design from Charisse Cardenas, which takes us inside Maddy's head and colours her virtual exchanges with Olly. One of their early text conversations, for example, takes place within a diner model Maddy has built for her online architecture class.
Unfortunately things take a particularly dark turn in a rushed denouement involving Maddy's illness and her mother. It's not so much the scenario itself that's the issue, but the film's treatment of it. Rather than being the basis for an exploration of a particularly complicated mother-daughter relationship, instead Pauline is used as a narrative scapegoat; her extreme behaviour merely an act of contrivance allowing Maddy and Olly to be together. Implausible at best, it's enough to derail the film and leaves a particularly sour taste.
General release from Fri 18 Aug.