Digital Editor Alex McDonald says that Everything, Everything is just rubbish, rubbish
I pride myself on being able to go to any film with at least an open mind; there’s no point writing a film off before you’ve even seen it. However, with Everything, Everything, I had an unshakeable sense of dread. Perhaps it was my “oh-no-not-another-YA-film” sense tingling. Or maybe my more niche, yet equally as repugnant, “teens-versus-diseases-flick” itch was acting up. Regardless, sitting in that black cinema, I could feel the icy tendrils of a terrible film wrapping around my body.
My fears were not lifted by the bland and blatantly expositional opening narration. We’re told that the protagonist Maddy (Amandla Stenberg), has SCID, an immunodeficiency disease so severe that she is confined within her home for fear of her imminent death. We’re told that she likes books, we’re told that she’s into architecture and we’re told which room is her favourite in the house; not that any of it is relevant to anything, but if the film is going to waste my time telling me then I’m going to waste yours by telling you. When the cinematic equivalent of an edgy teen, Olly (Nick Robinson), moves in next door, they stare at each other through a window long enough to fall in love. In a quest for freedom, independence and adventure, Maddy will risk her life, and the audience’s patience with her, to get what she wants.
There are few words more poignant to describe Everything, Everything than lazy: as mentioned before, the narration is painfully sluggish in its approach. It bombards you with information without any attempt to showcase what it is telling you. This may be a book-to-film adaptation but the screen allows you to show instead of tell; you’d be amazed what an audience can pick up without being spoon fed these days. Yet laziness permeates most aspects of this film.
I would level heavy criticism towards the actors involved in this film, but dialogue as lethargically written as this is a blackhole that sucks away any hopes of a solid performance. Any chance they have of forging a genuine connection with each other, let alone the audience, is lost in lines that no real human would ever say (honestly, what does “I loved you before I even met you” even mean?). It is so obviously written that nothing ever comes out naturally leaving conversations feeling stilted and wooden.
Stella Meghie’s direction makes some attempts to add a little style to proceedings, framing text conversations as real ones in a fantasy setting. However, given that the two window-crossed lovers meet face-to-face soon after, the impact of this supposedly momentous occasion falls incredibly flat. The film is also laden with clichés, the most glaring of which features a kiss that coincides perfectly with fireworks illuminating the background. The inherent laziness also comes across in Meghie’s overuse of montage sequences and its poppy soundtrack, making Everything, Everything come across as an extended music video at times.
Yet all of these issues are outdone by one irreconcilable plot twist that defies all logic and coherence. It comes out of absolutely nowhere to pull a rug out from beneath the audience that wasn’t even there in the first place. This is not clever writing. This is not an intelligently laid trap that we have walked into. The writers have pushed us off of a cliff and expected us to applaud their master plan. I don’t care whether “that’s how it happens in the book” because if it doesn’t make sense in the medium it’s being told in, it shouldn’t be told at all.
VERDICT: Everything, Everything is simply put rubbish, rubbish. Do not waste your time, money and energy on 96 minutes that feel like 2 and a half hours. You might as well just stay inside and be lazy, because that is all this film is doing.