Everything, Everything (2017) Review
Everything, Everything is directed by Stella Meghie and is her first major theatrical release. The film is based on the popular novel by Nicola Yoon and has been adapted by J. Mills Goodloe (The Age of Adaline, The Best of Me). The film stars Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and Nick Robinson (Jurassic World, The 5th Wave). "A teenager who's spent her whole life confined to her home falls for the boy next door". Is Everything, Everything 2017's answer to "The Fault in Our Stars"? Or is it yet another forgettable YA adaption?
I didn't really know what to expect from "Everything, Everything", I was hoping for something along the lines of "The Fault in Our Stars". However, I haven't seen a YA romance better than "Fault" since its release. The sub-genre started off strong but now it's dying out. Not even just YA romance, it's rare to get a YA film at all these days. Unfortunately, films like "Everything, Everything" are not going to change that. This isn't just a mediocre film, it's a pretty bad one. I actually hate the film's message and even though the twist towards the end was clever and unexpected, it acts as a detriment towards the rest of the film. Undoubtedly, this will please the target demographic of tween girls but anybody else? Good luck.
The worst thing about "Everything, Everything" is that it actually ends up sticking a middle finger up to anybody with SCID. Firstly, the film's lead character, Maddy is incredibly irresponsible and actually puts a boy before her own life. There's a ridiculous scene (that comes out of no where) where Maddy sees Olly fighting his dad and literally runs outside to stop the fight. I guarantee that in the book, a big part of Olly's character development is his abusive father. However, in the film (and that's all I can base my opinion on), the whole scene comes across overly aggressive putting neither Olly's father or Olly himself in a good light. Olly was not in a life-threatening position, I just don't get why Maddy literally dropped everything and risked her literal life to stop the fight. Secondly, Maddy then decides that she wants to risk everything and go on a romantic break away with Olly to Hawaii. Of course, Maddy ends up getting rushed into hospital at the end of her trip and as the audience, we're meant to feel sorry for her but I felt no sympathy at all. Of course it's not nice to see any human bed bound but when Maddy has literally grown up knowing the dangers, it was completely her fault that she fell ill on holiday...and could have died.
Then there's the last minute twist. Maddy's overprotective mother has lied to her her whole life and she's actually perfectly fine. Way. to. go. "Everything, Everything". Films that tell stories based on illness' should be very careful- yes, it's a fictional tale but they are also shining a light and spreading awareness. I suppose they can also act as a way for people who suffer from such illnesses to empathise, relate and see themselves depicted on screen. SCID is a thing and this film spends the most part of its 90 minute runtime making us feel sorry for Maddy...who doesn't actually have SCID! The whole thing is a big. fat. lie. If I was somebody with SCID I think I would be seriously offended by the depiction and that the illness was used all along just to tell a different spin on a romantic story. The more I think about it, the more annoying it becomes and my hatred for the film grows. The twist itself is clever and surprising but kind of irritating as it's right in your face the whole time.
Back to Maddy. Let's forget about the twist ending for a second and pretend that Maddy does have SCID like the film wants the audience to believe for 95% of the runtime. I think the film did a pretty good job of developing Maddy's character in the first 5 minutes or so- it did feel a little rushed and was very obvious exposition. However, at the end of it, I felt like I had a grasp of who Maddy was and what she suffered with. However, I don't know whether it's down to the acting or the choices made by the director but Maddy seemed quite content with her contained life. I know it's all that she would know but there must be some psychological impacts due to the way she grew up? I also wouldn't be surprised if a SCID patient suffered with depression. The film could have done a much better job of portraying Maddy's day-to-day life. Instead of a deeper and darker look, we got a sugarcoated lifestyle that actually didn't seem that bad. Her lifestyle only became a problem when she looked at a boy and fell in love. When people try and say that "13 Reasons Why" was glamorising and sugar-coated a serious issue, I'm seriously going to direct them to this film so they can see what sugar-coating and glamourising really looks like.
The relationship. Even if it's not factually accurate, at least the relationship can be cute and charming right??! No. Once again, I don't know whether its the acting or the writing...probably a bit of both but this has to be one of the dullest relationships I've seen portrayed on-screen in a while. I was never on board with the relationship as it kicked off in the most ridiculous way- Olly literally just has to see Maddy and he loves her. He's then obsessed with her and abracadabra, the relationship is born. This didn't do any good for the character of Olly who at first comes off as desperate and obsessive- he's one of those boys who just needs a girlfriend. I liked the scenes where the two were texting as they were slightly more inventive- instead of a 10 minute scene of the two texting, the film actually put the two characters in one of Maddy's model buildings and they spoke in there, in person. It worked well and was a nice touch. The relationship really didn't come off as anything special- I don't know the film's timescale but it felt like they only knew each other a couple of weeks and Maddy wanted to go on holiday with him. Oh, and did I already mention that after such a short time, Maddy was willing to sacrifice her life for him?
I think one of the better parts of the film is the two young actors as its centre. This is the first I've seen from Amandla Stenberg since her short but powerful performance in "The Hunger Games". I don't think Stenberg did a bad job at all. I just think the material she was given was pretty weak. I hope Stenberg continues to get more work in Hollywood as the jury is still out on her so I want to see what else she has to give. Nick Robinson was ok. I think he came off quite cold and not particularly charismatic- I don't know if that's because his character was quite a 'cool guy' but I think it was him who was detrimental to the chemistry between the two really setting alight. In general, the chemistry between Stenberg and Robinson was alright but definitely not good enough for a film that is all about the romance.
The film looked and sounded good. Even though a lot of the film is contained in one house, the house was visually appealing. However, some of the best shots came when the two got to go to Hawaii- there were some beautiful shots of the ocean and underwater wildlife. Then again, could even the worst cinematographer make the Hawaii landscape look bad? The score itself was forgettable and didn't really make an impact..lots of the scenes actually felt rather awkward due to the lack of a score. However, the second half of the film seemed to have more songs overlaid on top of scenes. This is quite a common trope in YA flicks. The song choices were good and the moment where 'Stay' by Zedd and Alessia Cara played was my favourite moment in the entire film.
The film's message is also its tagline. "Risk everything...for love". I agree with its message to an extent but in the context of this film, I completely disagree! The film suggests that you should risk your actual life for somebody you have known for less than a month. I do not think this is the message that should be sent to impressionable, young Tweens. I like the message when it comes to life's experiences but when it comes to risking your actual life for love, it's just stupid and mindless. I think that's "Everything, Everything"'s biggest problem. It just doesn't have a brain. It's harmless and light on the surface which actually ends up being quite harmful and distasteful as it tackles a serious subject. I'm really intrigued to see how fans of the book react to this- has it just not been translated well to the big screen at all?
"Everything, Everything" isn't an awful film. It's just quite a bad one. In more ways then just one. Firstly, I don't think this is a great adaption as I cannot see such a basic love story taking off. Secondly, the twist ending may be effective but its in really bad taste in retrospect. The acting is alright but these actors should be doing better if they want their stars to rise. It's just mindless and pretty ridiculous. It's rare when you have to turn your brain off to enjoy a romance about a serious illness but I recommend you do for "Everything, Everything". What's wrong with this film? Pretty much everything (everything).