What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face? For one teen girl, this "what if" is a reality.
Based on Nicola Yoon's best-selling YA novel, Everything, Everything tells the unlikely love story of Maddy, an incredibly smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who cannot leave her house due to a severe auto-immune disorder, and Olly, the boy next door she falls in love with who won’t let her illness stop them.
I was fortunate enough to meet Nicola Yoon when I first moved to New York in 2015 at a festival hosted by Entertainment Weekly. She had just published the book and hearing her passionately explain the story on a panel, inspired me to walk out of that session straight to the vendors and to purchase the book before making my way back to her to get it signed. So, imagine my excitement when I heard they were adapting the book into a movie.
While I'm not an extremely harsh movie judge, I do acknowledge that book-to-screen adaptions can truly be a hit or miss. But, let me say that Everything, Everything completely knocked it out of the park.
Charming and well-acted, this refreshingly sweet love story is a great example of why Hollywood should focus on developing realistic YA stories instead of trying to find the next "Twilight." Starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, the adaptation is fairly true to the book and director Stella Meghie beautifully brings Nicola's words to life.
I smiled and cried more than once about how beautifully the words translated on screen. Exactly how I pictured everything playing out in my head while reading (and re-reading!) the book is almost exactly how things looked on screen.
In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, the director revealed that she wanted absolutely no pink on set. "I just feel like sometimes when you’re doing teen girl movies, it becomes something that people put in every corner of every frame, something pink," she said. And true to her word, I saw not a single drop of pink. The pastel color palette was so refreshing and tied in perfectly with the soft, sweetness of the film and created truly awesome imagery.
Anika Noni Rose shines as Maddy's overprotective mother and the actresses' mother-daughter connection was beautiful. It's a vulnerable side of black women I love seeing on screen. Speaking of race, it's clear that Maddy is bi-racial, her mother is Black, Olly is white and Nurse Carla (played by Ana de la Reguera) is Latina, but nothing about race comes up in conversation, which is super refreshing. Literally this film has carefree black girl written all over it, but Maddy didn't need to shout it out every five seconds. She was allowed to just exist and tell her story.
Without giving too much away I must say that my favorite part of the film was how the text messages between Maddy and Olly played out. Most of their interactions in the book are over text and email, due to her being stuck inside, but of course no one wants to watch them looking down at phones for two hours. The director staged the young couple's many e-conversations as imagined face-to-face encounters inside the various dioramas Maddy spends her time building for her online architecture class. It was the most creative thing I think I've ever seen, and y'all I've seen a lot of creative films. My only quibble, character-wise, is that it would have been nice to see a bit more time devoted to Olly's backstory from the book. But, nonetheless I would definitely go see this again and again.
If you're not a hopeless romantic already, you definitely will be after seeing this. I have nothing but praise for Everything, Everything, starring, directed by, and based on an adaptation by women of color. Hands down this contemporary YA adaptation is faithful enough to its source material to please fans, but easy enough to follow for newcomers to enjoy and love.
My suggestion: Run, don't walk to theaters right now and see it!
Photos Courtesy of Warner Brothers