When I reviewed The Circle, I suggested that the book must be better than the movie. I read the book and can confirm that the film was a weak adaptation. I might have to read Everything, Everything, because if The Circle was a bad adaptation, this movie was a bad draft of an adaptation.
In Everything, Everything, Maddie (Amandla Stenberg) has a disorder that makes her immune system so weak that she cannot leave the house without risking a life-threatening illness. She does the best she can with the situation, taking distance courses and pursuing her own curiosities, but then Olly Bright (Nick Robinson) moves in next door and you can guess what happens. Maddie’s nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera) arranges a short visit between the two teenagers, and Maddie’s mother, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), fires Carla and redoubles her efforts to keep Maddie safe. The star-crossed-lovers then run off to Hawaii and Maddie is faced with alarming truths about her health and her relationships.
Everything, Everything is charming and fun, with some good character development, but I think that a lot must have been left out of the adaptation of the novel. I usually enjoy character-driven stories, but I kept thinking, “Surely there’s more to this.” The plot’s conflicts are resolved so rapidly that there is not much tension throughout the movie. The stakes, although technically life and death, do not feel very high, making it more cute than anything else. Cute does not usually make for a very compelling movie.
Despite the flaws in the screenplay, Everything, Everything has some amusing moments that depict the use of technology in communication, which is a hurdle to film adaptation that I find interesting. It also has fun with the way Maddie uses her imagination to escape from the solitude of her homebound life. These moments hint at some deeper character development and an emotional plot that does not come through with much depth in the movie.
In addition to some inventive cinematography, the chemistry between the main characters is strong enough to carry the scenes that they are in. Amandla Stenberg is adorable, and she does a wonderful job of portraying Maddie’s desire for more engagement with her peers and her fear over her own health. That conflict resonates more than the conflict between Maddie and her mother because of the strength of her performance, not the strength of the writing. As Olly, Nick Robinson delivers a weaker performance than Stenberg, but his character is not given much meat in the adaptation. There is a plot about him dealing with an abusive step-father, but, like so many other conflicts, it all but gets smoothed over. The relationship between Olly and Maddie, however, drives the plot and as a scene partner to Stenberg, Robinson is suitably charming.
Everything, Everything is only a hour and a half long. I do not usually advocate for a movie to be longer, but I think that if the film had spent more time developing backstory and the relationships between the characters, then the whole project would have been better. Generally, the story seemed rushed and so much of the conflict was glossed over that it was hard to really care about the sometimes serious issues the characters are dealing with. I wonder how much of this problem results from working around the unique circumstance of depicting a relationship so constrained by distance as Maddie and Ollie’s, but what the writer did did not work.
For being cute but not compelling, I rate Everything, Everything 2/5 stars.
Everything, Everything was directed by Stella Meghie and written by J. Mills Goodle, based on the novel by Nicola Yoon. It runs 96 minutes and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sensuality.
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