Directed by: Stella Meghie
Premise: Based on the novel by Nicola Yoon. A teenage girl (Amandla Stenberg) suffers from a disease that makes her allergic to everything. She lives a sheltered life but yearns for experience and adventure especially when an attractive young man (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.
What Works: Everything, Everything is a teen romance and it succeeds in appealing to its adolescent audience. The key to making a romance work is the casting of the lead players. Actors Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson are a photogenic and likable couple and viewers will want to see them get together. But beyond that, the casting of Stenberg and Robinson works for this movie because the film is in-tune with its cultural moment; these young people look like they walked out of a Pepsi commercial and the film has the slick look of contemporary youth-oriented advertising. As a young adult romance, it is incumbent upon the filmmakers to deliver the heartache and angst found in similar titles like Twilight and The Fault in Our Stars and the many films adapted from the works of Nicholas Sparks. Everything, Everything is quite successful at that and Stenberg and Robinson have a palpable romantic tension in their early scenes together. Everything, Everything also deserves some credit for the way it makes dialogue and texting conversations cinematic. Like most of today’s teenagers, the lead characters of Everything, Everything primarily communicate through their phones and director Stella Meghie and her crew have come up with ways to stage their conversations in ways that are visually interesting.
What Doesn’t: Everything, Everything suffers from a wobbly premise that falls apart if the viewer ever stops to think about it. Amandla Stenberg’s character suffers from a rare immunity condition that requires her to be kept away from all diseases, viruses, and possibly allergens. As a result she lives a lonely life inside of a home that resembles the research facility in The Andromeda Strain. But the movie punches giant holes in its own conceit. The young woman’s mother (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse (Ana de la Reguera) come and go on a daily basis and their sterilization procedures aren’t very thorough. The whole story depends upon Stenberg’s character being physically separated from the young man she is falling in love with, as well as anyone else her age. To mingle with other people would mean death but there’s no reason they couldn’t just go through the same sterilization procedure as her caretakers. Widening that logical hole is the nurse’s daughter (Danube Hermosillo) who regularly comes to visit. This undermines the entire premise of the movie and Everything, Everything has no real conflict and virtually no tension. The young lovers meet and hit it off right away; their relationship blossoms without any speedbumps and neither of them learns from the other or comes to any new understandings about themselves. Aside from obviously undermining its premise, Everything, Everything also fails to take advantage of it. Stenberg’s character has been denied access to other people, especially her pears, for her entire seventeen years. Her only contact with the outside world is through books, media, and the internet. Yet, the young woman appears to be as socialized as anyone else. This doesn’t make sense and it squanders an opportunity to present the world through her unique vantage point. This becomes very apparent when the young lovers flee suburbia. The domestic interiors are designed and filmed in a slick and polished style. The outside world ought to be grittier and evoke the newness and danger that this young woman is putting herself in. Everything, Everything makes an especially bad step in the ending. The picture includes a stupid last minute revelation that undermines the whole film.
Bottom Line: Everything, Everything is effective but it’s not very good. The movie provides exactly the kind of melodramatic romance that its intended audience will be looking for and its visual style ought to appeal to young moviegoers. But as a drama, Everything, Everything is not compelling and it plays fast and loose with its concept.
Episode: #650 (June 4, 2017)