Good Teen Chemistry Amidst A Shaky Plot
Everything, Everything is a teen romance with a twist – main character Maddy (Amanda Stenberg) can’t go outside. Stuck watching the world through her window and reduced to texting and speaking on the phone, the ensuing romance between her and boy next door Olly (Nick Robinson) is reasonably well paced but it suffers with a story rife with plot holes and an incredulous ending that feels flawed and improbable.
Born with a rare disease that garners her immune system virtually non existent, Maddy spends her entire life indoors, wrapped up in her imagination and surrounded by books. When she begins interacting with the boy next door, it soon becomes obvious that more than friendship is blossoming between the two teens. With the physical barriers between the two characters hindering their ability to have a normal relationship and Maddy’s over-protective mother forbidding any contact between the two, what ensues is an interesting dynamic as the two characters do everything they can to stay connected. While the story plays out at a decent pace, the script lends itself to more than one unforgivable plot hole that makes it difficult to take seriously.
With the exception of Maddy, the rest of the cast are paper thin on characterisation too including Olly who’s sole piece of back story comes in the form of an abusive Father. Whilst I understand that this is a teen romance and its unlikely that deep, well written characters are the first thing that your average moviegoer would be looking out for, I can’t help but feel there’s enough here to justify diving a little deeper into Olly’s life to actually empathise and feel the same way Maddy does. When it comes to poor writing, no one is a worse culprit for it than Maddy’s mum who features a flaky moral compass and a lack of empathy toward any of the characters. Her interactions with Maddy feel forced and wooden at best. Without giving too much away, the dislike you initially generate for her is further accentuated throughout the plot to almost unbearable levels.
Having said that though, there is enough here to please fans of romance films. The love between the two characters is realistically depicted, with some touching scenes between the two. The locales throughout the film including the magical realism depicted through Maddy’s imagination are well realized and lend itself to some decent visuals. Speaking of visuals, one of the best scenes sees a slick sweeping drone shot of a beach that lazily floats down to the water before releasing back into the air to show the colourful landscape. In a film predominantly shot with simple close ups, medium and long shots, its surprising to see such a technically impressive camera movement being incorporated. Everything, Everything also boasts a modern soundtrack with the latest pop hits, a good use of contrasting colours – Maddy dressed in white and Olly always in black – and a keen eye for detail. For all of its flaws with the story and characters, Everything, Everything is not an awful film and does have some redeeming features but its squandered by the issues that are hard to ignore.
If you’re looking for a simple romance story that’s light on tear-jerking moments, Everything, Everything ticks the box. As mentioned, there’s some questionable plot choices and the light characterisation for every character other than Maddy makes it a largely forgettable romance story. The soundtrack and use of colour is good though and the actual romance between the two actors plays out well and is believable enough. Its just such a shame that everything around these elements doesn’t hit the mark, including the ending, as the pieces are here for a decent romance flick. Ultimately its squandered in favour of a title that’s neither here nor there, stuck in a cage and unable to forfill its true potential.