Whimsical. That’s the number one word I would use to describe Nicola Yoon’s writing in “Everything, Everything,” the book that started it all. Meaning it, whimsical, is the number one characteristic I hoped would shine through on the big screen adaptation.
Magically Skillfully, by the director, writer, producers, and the stars it did just that. Everything, Everything was lovely. Just. Lovely.
And that’s, above all else, what I want from my love-infused movies, for them to be lovely. To watch the images move across the screen and not want to lose focus, ever, not even to blink. To hear the words coming from the characters’ mouths and to have the words, the sounds, their meanings permeate through me and make me feel everything (everything). To feel swept up in the love, to feel lovely. Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson made me feel just that.
Amandla Stenberg brought to life the funny and witty Maddy, an 18-year-old girl who’s been contained inside her house almost her entire life due to an illness of SCID, with such ease, grace, and sincerity. She’s all that I hoped for while reading the book, and I’m beyond thrilled that she didn’t disappoint. Amandla is the perfect breath of pure, fresh air the teen romance genre needed to help it on its journey back to life.
Nick Robinson easily slid into the role of Olly, the boy next door who begins an at-first virtual and then in-person romance with Maddy. He’s the perfect combination of confident and caring, of sweet and sexy, and of forthright and funny that we crave in our fictitious love interests.
With Maddy and Olly’s relationship starting off mainly through texts, it was interesting to see how director Stella Meghie decided to bring those conversations to life. When a text stream began, Maddy, Olly, and the audience would be transported inside Maddy’s latest architectural model creation and it was beautiful. Everything looked brighter, sharper, more colorful, and more dream-like. It was a lovely and fun way to turn their texts into imaginary dates.
I seriously spent the entire movie with a smile on my face. It was a constant. A dependent. I couldn’t have changed it even if I had wanted to because my RSF (resting smile face) was born from the casual cuteness and adorableness that was the everyday walk-and-talk (less walk, more talk) between Maddy and Olly. Even now, as I write this, just thinking back on each scene, I can’t help but smile as I type. That, is what this genre is all about. That, is why the teen romance needs to be a regularity, not a rarity.
Rarity or not, I’m glad this movie made the cut. I’m glad I got to see Maddy & Olly’s often awkward and sweet scenes, with no background music or sounds to diffuse the delicate tension. It kept it casual, light and real. It kept the attention on them, these characters, these teens, feeling things for the first time. Kept the attention on every move they took, every glance they made, every word they finally decided to speak. Thus escalating these bits and pieces from subtleties to blatancies, and escalating the audience’s connection with the characters and their blossoming relationship.
Throughout the film, Amandla often had the same facial expression, one extremely reminiscent of Mandy Moore’s in A Walk to Remember, and this is completely a good thing. I remember thinking how full of wonder, pure, weightless, soft, delicate, WHIMSICAL that look was on Mandy’s face, and I felt the same way as I watched Amandla. Again, smiles.
Plus, the movie even gives us a great singing-in-a-car scene in Hawaii that will give you some The Last Song déjà vu. It’s a calm scene, with Maddy and Olly driving together in this beautiful, scenic place, at ease and peace with each other. Just singing softly because they can. And should.
Not just because there are some moments that remind me of other great teen movies, Everything, Everything was a very well-done book-to-screen adaptation. It kept the same feel as the book and most of the important details. It’s fine that Maddy’s architecture professor never visited, Olly was never seen hanging out on the roof, Maddy only imagined seeing Olly in a car with some other girl, they didn’t stop at Carla’s on the way to Hawaii, or that they don’t meet up with Olly’s friend during their trip, but there are a couple things I would’ve like to have seen.
In the movie, Maddy tells Olly she’s good at handstands and proceeds to show him, but in the book, Olly is this moving/flipping/jumping/ boy and that’s one of the things Maddy likes about him. And she asks him to teach her how to do handstand and I think that would’ve been fun and sweet to see.
Also, I wish Maddy’s incredible love of books was showcased more. It was mentioned briefly in the beginning that she reads a lot, then one of her short book reviews was show, and then one more seen of her reading and that was about it. In the novel, reading was this entire part of her. She lived through these stories, reading them frontwards and backwards (literally!). She always wrote these witty notes in her books in case they were lost to let the finder know what kind of reward they would receive. This came full circle at the end when in NY and Olly picks up Maddy’s book with the perfect reward: her. I wish that adorableness and uniqueness to this special character would’ve been shown.
But, with those being my only suggestions, clearly the movie touched upon the most important thing: Maddy & Olly’s romance, allowing them both to truly live.
Some other reviews describe the pace as too slow or have problems with the third act reveal. To them, I say, 1. Younger people can also appreciate walk-and-talks a la Before Sunrise and 2. Third acts are meant for twists and turns and, thankfully, this one stays true to the book (unlike My Sister’s Keeper), it surprises the audience (my theater was *very* surprised), it gives more depth to the characters just when you think you have this YA movie figured out, and it allows for the romantic ending we all wanted.
So, just stop. Breathe. Remember the importance of the movie you’re watching. Remember the importance of this genre being supported.
For years it seemed like movie studios were convinced the teen genre itself was living with SCIDs, hence why the category was whispered about but was rarely brought into the light. Recently, it seems like they’re finally starting to come to the same conclusion that Maddy did, but now, since being locked up inside for so many years, it will take a while for the teen genre to fully heal and reach its new potential. Luckily, with the likes of The Edge of Seventeen, The Outcasts, and now Everything, Everything proving the capability the genre still has, the probability of a full recovery has severely increased.
Thank you, Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson. Thank you, Stella Meghie. Thank you, Nicola Yoon.
I think you all understand how I feel. No need to write more. Ellipsis.
Everything, Everything is playing now at a theater near you. Go see it!
If you would like to read Nicola Yoon’s beautiful novel that started it all, you can purchase it here.