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Everything, Everything is every bit your typical teen romance about a sick girl and the boy who loves her. The film is cheesy. It loves love and rejects reality. In other words: it’s exactly what you expect it to be.
But what sets Everything, Everything apart from other teen romances is that the film is also somehow Bubble Boy (2001). Nearly every beat it hits mirrors that of the ridiculous sixteen-year-old comedy.
In Everything, Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) is an 18-year-old suffering from SCID, an immunodeficiency that keeps her locked up in her stringently sterilised house. In Bubble Boy, Jimmy is born without an immune system and is forced to live his life inside a literal bubble.
When heartthrob Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, Maddy finds herself longing for a normal life to be with him despite her mother’s warnings. When Jimmy meets new neighbour Chloe, he is immediately taken with her despite his mother’s warnings.
Maddy and Jimmy go on vastly different tangents to find love, to be sure, but eventually they end up exactly where the other does. And it’s to the surprise of absolutely no one watching.
Everything, Everything is every bit your typical teen romance about a sick girl and the boy who loves her
What Everything loses in predictability, though, it makes up for in sincerity.
Stella Meghie’s tender direction is calming, the teals and yellows of the film refreshing, and both allow the film an unapologetic tone.
The film seems to understand the disdain for the romance genre, but dismisses it out of hand anyway. It is sweet without taking itself too seriously, and while the story is lacking and unoriginal, it pushes on anyway.
It also helps that Amandla Stenberg is as likeable as her performance is heartfelt. Maddy often makes poor decisions, but Stenberg brings a humanity to the teenager that justifies what she does. She takes you right back to what it’s like to be young, in love, and newly in control of a credit card. She welcomes you to remember rather than dismiss.
It’s for these reasons the film will be a hit with teenagers looking for a little romance in the cinema, but whether it will be enough for anyone else is doubtful. To properly immerse yourself in Everything you need an innocent outlook on love, life, and reality. And while Meghie and Stenberg work hard to suspend your disbelief, the story is too far-fetched for even them to pull it back around.
Not to mention, Jake Gyllenhaal already did this all sixteen years ago — and any film battling comparisons to Bubble Boy is starting on the back foot.
Verdict: Everything, Everything will satisfy teens and romantics alike, but will bore anyone else. It is a pretty film with a lovely soundtrack, but it’s not enough to pull the story out of the melodramatic dredges.
Everything, Everything hits cinemas across South Africa on 23 June 2017.