First love can be wonderful and clumsy, so can movies about it.
Based on YA novel of the same name, Everything, Everything is a boy meets girl story with one little twist. If the girl, Maddy (played by Amandla Stenberg) steps outside, she’ll die. Diagnosed with a deadly inefficient immune system, Maddy hasn’t left her house since she was a toddler. She lives a content if unexciting life until the boy, Olly (played by Nick Robinson), moves next door. The sparks fly from their first look. To live happily ever after, the two young lovers must overcome Maddy’s illness and all the usual awkwardness that comes with teenage love affairs.
It’s a cute movie. The style of the movie is its greatest strength and blunder. Since Maddy and Olly are seldom in the same room, the movie recreates text and email messages like real life conversations, sometimes taking place in diners, sometimes in outer space. When the pair is together, there’s heavy subtext, as in literal text appearing on the screen to translate what their innocuous comments to each other really mean.
It makes for interesting individual scenes, but taken all together there isn’t a cohesive style. The filmmakers seem more interested in making each scene interesting on its own, than making a story with a consistent logic in how it’s told.
The same goes for the plot itself. The dialogue is funny and realistic, and each scene has its own momentum, but the connection between each event is thin. Events dramatically shift without enough emotional build to justify them.
Its adaptation roots start to show. People who have read the book should have no problem with it. They understand all the characters think and feel because they have pages of their journey in the back of their minds. The uninitiated, however, will wonder if the story has really earned the highs and lows it’s aiming for.
Like the A Walk to Remember or The Fault in Our Stars, this movie joins the pantheon of tales about finding love in the face of life’s uncertainties. It has its heart, and its humor, in the right place.