Adapted from the New York Times bestseller by Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything is a sweet but predictable tween romance, elevated by the chemistry of its leads and punctuated with a pleasant directorial flair by director Stella Meghie. Although the film stumbles through the occasional rough patch or inauthentic moment, these moments aren't likely to bother the film's target demographic, and they aren't enough to hamper a solid effort in a familiar (and easily flubbed) genre.
Meghie's first order of business is to draw parallels in Maddy's world. Maddy's favorite room in the house is the one that peers into the backyard via a gigantic plate-glass window, which is all green grass and colorful flowers. On the inside of the window, a cobblestone wall border gives way to wood, and even before the room ends we start to see where Maddy's more rigid existence begins, from the manufactured, sleek silver of her computer and into the rest of the house, which looks as if it came right out of some modern design catalog. The rest of the house seems almost monochromatic, especially the pristine white kitchen. Even Maddy herself dresses in white at first, but after Olly appears and their relationship forms over text messages, she starts integrating more color in her wardrobe. Meghie segues from superimposed text-messaging screens to imaginary environments, based on Maddy's architectural work, where Stenberg and Robinson can speak face-to-face, with the symbolic astronaut figurine Maddy places in each mock-up also brought to life alongside them. Inevitably (and perhaps sooner than one might guess), the action does venture outside, and the world Maddy exits into is almost completely free of the clinical, angular look of her house. It has a subtle but psychologically impactful nuance and variance to it, down to the wet sidewalks and unkempt bushes.
Of course, all of this stylistic, thematic detail exists to support the central romance, and it works, for the most part. At first, there's an uncertainty as to whether or not the two will click -- she seems so naive and he seems so pushy -- but they find their footing in an awkward but amusing first date sequence that tips its hat to Annie Hall. Although none of the little deviations cause the film to take on a different approach than teen movies of years past, there are signs that this is an updated formula that will appeal to 21st century kids. As one might expect from a movie based on a book by a woman and directed by another, the film is refreshingly rooted in Maddy's perspective, and she is the one to make the first move, both establishing her thirst for excitement and his respect for her condition. Olly has some of the hallmarks of bad boys past, without much bad: he may have the long locks and the skateboard, but his darkest secret is an unhappy home life that he and his sister hope to free their mother from.
Throughout, the film rests on Stenberg's shoulders, driven by her desire to live and experience the world. It's here where Meghie, Yoon, and adapting screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe most effectively tap into the spirit of being a teenager. While Stenberg sometimes falters with more intense peaks of romantic awkwardness or personal sorrow, she captures that desire to escape childhood and grow up at its most essential. Some criticism, perhaps valid, was directed at the movie for rewriting the character of Maddy from a mixed-race girl with an black dad and an Asian mother, but it is at least easy to see what Meghie saw in Stenberg, who ably carries the film through to the end.
The Video and Audio
A promo for 4K UltraHD and a trailer for Pure Country, Pure Heart play before the main menu. No theatrical trailer for Everything, Everything is included.