Madeline Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) is allergic to the outside world. So rare and potentially deadly is her condition that she has never left her home. Her mother (Anika Noni Rose) and attending nurse Carla (Ana de la Regura) are her only real human contact. Her world is 95% virtual, she takes part in online courses and support groups in order to feel connected to people. She stares out windows, longing for the ocean, whimsically dreaming and yet relatively content with her circumstances. This however quickly changes once Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door. Gazing longingly through windows at each other and messaging each other relentlessly, a distanced romance develops but the constraints of Madeline’s circumstances may be too great for their relationship to fully bloom.
The first acknowledgement that must be made in regard to this film is that I, as a 37-year-old man, am in no way the target audience for this film or presumably the novel from which it has been adapted. This is a YA novel adapted for the big screen whose appeal will largely lie in the teenage market. However, from my point of view the intended teenage audiences should be credited with more intelligence and more real world experience than this film offers.
The whimsical, unrealistic, unobtainable ideas of love that the film portrays made me tut and sigh my way through the 90+ minutes. As line after line of Hallmark dialogue was trotted out I became increasingly irritated and frustrated. I would hope that even those taking a chance on this film on a weekend cinema trip recognise that no one talks like this in the real world! I’m aware that Everything Everything is in no way intended to be a documentary, but realistic dialogue between characters should be a minimal requirement of any half decent screenplay!
To give some credit to the film there were moments that I enjoyed. The depiction of the text conversations between our pair of separated teens are well presented, as the pair stand in front of each other with faint text alert tones in the background reminding you that this is a sequence of pure fantasy. Likewise, little moments of cinematography bring some wonder to this bland world but ultimately the overbearing ukulele inflected scoring at every moment of deep (nonsensical) conversation will drag you right back to the reality that this is film making by faux emotion stirring numbers.
Truthfully this is TV movie of the week type film making and while the ideas of forbidden fruit and prohibition (not just the romance but also the outside world as a pseudo character) are considered; the methods of doing so are too cringe inducing to be worthwhile aspects to dwell on. Likewise, the notion of going for what you want in life, being brave in your choices and being prepared to take risks also lives within this film; however, it is buried so far beneath the levels of insurmountable cheese that it is virtually unobtainable as a real point of further discussion.
There are other films that tackle both these issues in much more profound and inteeligent ways that will give its audience much more credit for its intelligence and experiences. The teenage audience that the the film mkaers wish to woo can be better served elsewhere. Ultimately, Everything Everything is a very nothing nothing film.