“Every day feels exactly the same.”
Everything, Everything doesn’t stand a chance from the start because its head rests somewhere other than on the shoulders of a dependable and thoughtful script or on a picture devoted to earning its convictions. The left side of its brain – in charge of creative endeavors – spends the entire movie up the ol’ rear end while the right side – dedicated to logic – floats off into the clouds. Better young romances have more intellectually stimulating characters who share as much an interest in the other person’s flaws as they do the individual’s strengths. Everything, Everything doesn’t dig deep nor does it have the proper foundation to prop up these ill-suited teens sickened by infatuation, and so the title appears to be more of a reference to what it’s willing to rip apart instead of prioritizing what it wants to nurture.
Many kids grow up afraid of the dark; Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) is raised to fear the entire outside world. Ever since she was little she’s been told by her doctor mother Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) that she was born with the deadly auto-immune disease SCID. Everything, Everything takes the “bubble boy” concept and expands the size of its cell into a far less personal space; rather than being enslaved by a spherical piece of plastic that naturally induces sympathy, Maddy roams a high-tech house with advanced air filters and sterilized clothing, free to come and go within the walls, video chatting with others afflicted by SCID, passing the time instead of being forced to really reckon with it. The story frames her as a prisoner of Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave except she actively inquires into and looks for a reality she’s only seen from inside her home. The new boy next door Olly (Nick Robinson) provokes her to walk towards the front door, and maybe to twist the handle.
Maybe my own failed romantic endeavors have cooled my expectations for these types of care-free and blatantly jejune relationships. Or maybe Everything, Everything is so preposterous and so unfathomable that it should be categorized as a fairy tale instead of a film. Maddy and Olly certainly didn’t do anything to sweeten me up to their courtship, either. He’s a wallflower who wants to “love” someone different; she wants to “love” the first boy she gets to bat her lashes at. This is love at first bite rather than love at first sight, as well as the kind of failed motion picture that makes me start to think that happy-go-lucky rarely applies to the real world, and in this case, also diminishes the progress that comes from thorough, thoughtful, self-searching isolation. How can we invest in grand romantic gestures when neither party takes the time to invest in themselves? The performances are decent and might fool those wanting to fall, but they’re still empty canvases surrendering to the power of daydreams.
It’s not my intention to incriminate dreams and their worth. If anything, these internal visions embody our most invested passions. To dream is to have hope. That’s often an ugly process though, as recently seen through the tragedy of The Fault in Our Stars and the overlooked masterpiece of astray youth that is The Spectacular Now. Both films take the good with the bad, but more importantly develop characters we’ve either met in real life or imagined in pitches of impassioned heat. My heart never opened to these Instagram filtered kids here, both so idyllic and harmless, so detached from reality and the repercussions of acting on hormonal instinct. That describes plenty of bad 80’s movies, but what takes Everything, Everything to its lowest point is a final plot twist that’s so conniving and manipulative that you’ll think the words, “you were actually adopted!” told to a grown adult are nothing by comparison. Somebody needs to play a Bon Jovi classic for these filmmakers and the year’s earlier The Space Between Us. “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame. You give love a bad name.” I cosign those lyrics.
“Sorry to sound morose.”
Rating: 1 out of 5