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Film Review: Everything, Everything

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Translating young adult fiction to the big screen comes with its challenges. A film of this type has to appeal to its inspiration’s younger audience without coming across as too trivial. Although slightly cheesy and at times cliched, Everything, Everything is otherwise successful in this field.

The story is a familiar one. It ultimately boils down to the classic girl-meets-boy plot found in nearly every film of the romance genre with only an illness and the inability to leave the house separating it from the rest. However, the film exhibits a creative mode of storytelling that embraces its modern, young audience and captures the imagination.

Told through the eyes of Maddy (Amandla Stenberg), who has spent her entire life in the safety of her bacteria-free home, the film takes its audience on a ride through both her reality and imagination as she begins to fall for her new neighbour Olly (Nick Robinson).

The contrast between the inside and the outdoors cleverly builds Maddy’s world and, in a singular shot, viewers are reminded of the difference between what Maddy has become accustomed to and what she desires, evoking a level of empathy towards her but never pity.

The film wastes no time in jumping into the story and from there the pacing is perfectly controlled. As soon as the clinical, routine-orientated nature of her life is established, Olly enters the scene and with him comes a shift in tone.

A visible change in Maddy’s character becomes apparent, as well as a warmer, freer atmosphere. It is made clear that Maddy is in no way void of love or affection in her life prior to Olly, enjoying nights in with a caring mother, but it is upon his arrival that viewers and Maddy alike realise what she has been missing.

The two leads really showcase their abilities to charm an audience in this film. Amandla Stenberg shines in her second book-to-film adaption, taking step up from secondary character, Rue, in The Hunger Games, to the lead role of Maddy. Stenberg and the equally talented Nick Robinson effortlessly portray an idyllic and dream-like romance that is far too easy to get caught up in.

In the same vein, the film ranks very highly in regards of enjoyment; it is a very easy watch due to its young adult target audience and romance plot. As mentioned, the pacing is just right. It doesn’t drag or rush, making for a very smooth watching experience and a story that is easy to comprehend.

On top of this, the characters are written in such a way that the film takes an almost completely unrelatable situation of being cooped up indoors and constantly secluded and makes it relatable through very human emotions (albeit occasionally cliché).  

Similarly, the cinematography works effortlessly in putting the audience in Maddy’s headspace. Through the film’s stunning scenery and glowing natural lighting, viewers are forced to look at the world with a sense of awe and wonderment, simultaneously appreciating what they have and realising what Maddy has been deprived of.

The film’s main pitfall, however, is the story’s lack of danger – both physically and emotionally. The whole premise of the film revolves around the fact that if Maddy leaves the house she could die, a relatively extreme danger, yet there is never that true feeling of ‘life or death’.

Likewise, some brief insights into Olly’s personal life are clearly included in the film to raise the stakes but these are brushed over and, again, less controversial than they should have been. The film would have benefitted from these aspects being enhanced, not in a dramatic way but in an emotional sense that would have ensured a higher level of investment from the film’s slightly older audience.

Regardless of its rose-tinted outlook on love and somewhat clichéd script, Everything, Everything is an enjoyable watch that knows its audience and embraces it. By no means the movie of the year but a strong addition to the teen drama/adaptation genre that is worth giving a chance.

Everything, Everything is out now, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

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