Everything, Everything is evidence that an ending can ruin a movie. As far as young adult love stories go, much of the film is solid. The leads are charming, the direction is inventive, and a few genuine moments stick out. Everything gets thrown out the window in the last fifteen minutes, however. It has a fair deal in common with The Space Between Us, another teenage romance where two lovers are driven apart due to a medical condition. Both movies start off with interesting premises, but ultimately squander their potential following some insanely idiotic plot choices.
Amandla Stenberg, aka Rue from The Hunger Games, is all grown up as Maddy Whittier, an 18-year-old girl living with SCID, an autoimmune disease that requires her to stay indoors at all times. Even though she’s cooped up 24/7, Maddy apparently still takes the time to shower, put on makeup, do her hair, and look like a supermodel. As somebody that does a fair deal of work from home, I can safely say that’s BS. Among Maddy’s only human contacts are her overprotective mother (Anika Noni Rose) and her more understanding nurse (Ana de la Reguera). Everything changes, though, when a young heartthrob named Olly Bright (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.
Stenberg and Robinson have a natural chemistry that lights up the screen. Even when a glass window separates these two, they still manage to get a lot of emotion across through body language and facial expressions. Director Stella Meghie also cooks up a couple clever fantasy sequences that allow them to come closer together. It’s additionally refreshing to see an interracial couple on the big screen where race and ethnicity are never really a factor. That might sound like an odd thing to compliment in 21st century America, but let’s be honest. Even in 2017, diverse pairs are hard to come by in mainstream movies.
Eventually Maddy decides that she can’t be a caged bird any longer and flies away. This is where the movie gets especially preposterous. After obtaining a credit card online, Maddy and Olly are able to cover plane tickets to Hawaii, a luxury hotel, and various other expenditures. Of course in reality, the card would’ve gotten maxed out before they even made it to the airport. For that matter, how is Maddy able to get on a plane without a driver’s license, passport, or any form of identification? This has got to be the worst airline since Home Alone 2.
Once they get to Hawaii, it basically turns in a Nicholas Sparks movie, which isn’t surprising since the same schmuck that adapted The Best of Me also wrote this. Our lovers spend much of their time hanging out on the beach and frolicking in the water. Wait, when did Maddy learn how to swim? Did her house have an indoor pool we never saw? For a movie called Everything, Everything, the screenwriter seems to explain nothing.
Plot holes aside, I was still on the verge of recommending the film for young couples. Then the final act came along and undid everything we thought we knew about these people. Without giving too much away, did you ever see Bubble Boy with Jake Gyllenhaal? Remember the stupid last minute twist in that movie? Well, they do the same exact thing here. Where Bubble Boy was a comedy, however, Everything, Everything expects us to take it seriously. The ending is a cheap, manipulative copout, turning one character into an unsympathetic villain straight out of a fairytale like Rapunzel.
The ending is not only insulting to our intelligence, but also subtracts any emotional weight the movie might’ve had. In the real world, some people are simply dealt a bad hand and are given no choice but to deal with the cruel nature of life. This film offers an easy answer for a complicated problem, talking down to its audience. If you want a movie that perfectly balances tragedy and young love, watch The Fault in Our Stars. It’s so much more than Everything, Everything.