BY ROGER THOMAS
With this review, I think I will start with the two leads. Amanda Sternberg plays Maddy Whittier, a teenage girl who has spent her whole life inside because of an ‘immunity system disorder” which prevents her body from fighting off germs and other things. Sternberg has been in other films and television series but her most prominent role thus far is young Rue in “The Hunger Games.” Rue’s demise in “Hunger Games” is one of if not the most tragic moment in that film.
Nick Robinson has the role of Olly Bright, a teenager who moves with his family into the house next to Maddy and her mother. Robinson may be more recognizable than Sternberg because he starred in the one of the biggest films of all time: “Jurassic World.” In that film he plays a teenager who tries to keep his younger brother safe when they become stranded in a jungle of dinosaurs. Robinson is also the lead character in a small gem of a movie entitled “The Kings of Summer” which came out in 2013. “Kings of Summer” is worth a look if you have not already seen it.
I like Sternberg’s and Robinson’s performances and much of the first third of the film. There are some interesting conversations between the two teenagers. There are moments when Maddy’s health is challenging for her and those who care about her. Olly’s family has their own problems which are not the center of the film, but they play a role.
There is also a wonderful set that is the home for Maddy and her mother. I love that house and most of the first two-thirds of the film are centered in the residence.
Much of scenes of the film are dialogue driven, and I found much of it to be interesting. Maddy has read many books in her eighteen years, and there is some insight there. Olly makes fun of her interpretations of the stories as the two are grow closer emotionally, while they cannot grow closer physically. These two leads are nearly forty years younger than me, but this story of friendship and ultimate love is compelling, at least for a while.
Then the film changes, There are decisions made and the film begins to drift into the “territory of disbelief.” At first I was caught with the two characters who had captured my attention. These were two kind and caring teenagers and their compassion makes one want to root for them. However, a film about sickness, needs some foundation in reality. I started to waver on my positive thoughts of the film when the story made a huge transition.
However, that was not enough to cause me to abandon the film all together. A much greater offense was still on the horizon. I like a good twist as much as anyone. I especially like it when it is an absolute surprise. The problem with a “reveal” in the third act is that it better feel authentic. If not, the rest of the film collapses.
I would love to write all the ways the climax shattered the film. I would love to argue with anyone who wanted to justify the third act. But for now, I will just say, “Everything, Everything” disappointed me not in every way, but many ways. Specifically the filmmakers try to surprise the audience rather than offering a convincing ending that would be acceptable to those who enjoyed the first two thirds.
May Amanda Sternberg and Nick Robinson find many more roles. They are talented young actors. They have proved that in other films, and they did so in “Everything, Everything.” So I hope both of them find great scripts and I will look forward to their next projects even as I try to forget about this one.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.