If there’s one thing that you need to know about the new hit film “Everything, Everything” it’s that it will make you believe in true love again. The film features two standout young actors, Amandla Stenberg (as Maddy) and Nick Robinson (as Olly), who will simply take your breath away with their charm and sweetness.
If there were ever two young people destined to fall in love together despite impossible odds, it has to be Maddy and Olly. You will be rooting for them every step of the way. And even when you think you know how the film is going to turn out, you find their romantic charm simply irresistible. So what makes “Everything, Everything” such a perfect teen romance?
It emphasizes that love overcomes adversity
The first place to start, of course, is the back story behind the romance. Amandla Stenberg plays an 18-year-old teenager suffering from a rare disease in which she can never go outside or leave her house. Her protective mother has created a sterile, hermetically sealed home environment, in which the only other person allowed to interact with her is her personal nurse.
You can immediately see where this is going, right? When she falls in love with someone, it will be someone who can take her out of her protective zone and show her the world. And yet, if she ever leaves her house, she may succumb to her illness.
In many ways, the story of the tragically sick Maddy sets up the whole “love overcomes all” story. The only way to overcome her illness is to find someone who can help her conquer this illness. And, as we quickly find out in the film, that person is the handsome and well-meaning Olly.
When we first meet him, he’s moving into a new house next door to Maddy. He spots the beautiful Maddy from a window and comes up with a classic teenage plot – he will show up at the doorstep of the home with a bundt cake and then ask about the teenage girl living inside. Of course, Olly – like any teenager – is a bit clumsy in pulling this off, and that leads to another big reason why this is the perfect teen romance: it perfectly captures the awkward nature of any teen relationship.
It captures the reality of today’s teens and digital relationships
Since Maddy can never leave the house, the only way for her and Olly to communicate is via text messages and by staring at each other in their windows. This might seem like a contrived plot device to some, but it’s actually extraordinarily clever, because it captures the rhythm and flow of today’s teen relationships. In 2017, some teens date and break up, entirely by text message. And so this film brilliantly captures this dynamic. Only, in this case, the need to correspond solely by text message is being forced on them.
It features a charming third-party facilitator
Once Maddy and Olly are desperately in love with each other, it’s time for them to meet in real life. The key here, of course, is to get Maddy’s nurse to become part of this plot. She, too, is well-meaning and understands that the key to Maddy’s happiness is for her to meet her would-be suitor in real-life. So the first meeting finally occurs, thanks to her, in which Maddy stays on one side of the room and Olly on the other.
Every teen romance, it seems, needs this type of charming third-party facilitator. In some teen movies that take place in high school, it might be a well-meaning friend who “sets up” two people without their knowing it. Or it might involve a teacher or other mentor, who is able to recognize the first bloom of romance.
It’s the perfect “girl next door” story
There have been plenty of “girl next door” or “boy next door” romance stories, and this is literally a story of the “girl next door.” Olly is moving in next to Maddy, and their lives will never be the same again. They start by looking through windows at each other, and then follow up by talking via texts. It is only later that they are able to meet in person and explore the full nature of their romantic relationship.
A modern love story based around diversity
What will make this film such a hit for today’s teens is that it’s not the classic story of “blonde cheerleader” and “jock hero.” It’s about two normal teens who just want to fall in love together. And it needs to be pointed out here that Amandla Stenberg is the daughter of an African-American mother and a Danish father. And, in some ways, that’s exactly what this film explores: what a romantic relationship between a black girl and a white boy might look like. At one time, that might have been taboo, but not in today’s liberal, progressive America.
This, then, is a modern romance story for the post-Obama era, in which the color of your skin simply should not matter. So, unlike some films that seem to be geared to white, Hispanic or black audiences, this film has a lot of crossover appeal. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity or race, this is the perfect film for you.
The eternal themes of parental control and running away from home
If you think of most coming-of-age movies, they feature a plotline of young people dealing with authority figures in their lives, and learning how to make decisions in their own lives. And that’s where “Everything, Everything” really excels. It’s not just that Maddy must decide to take responsibility for her sickness, but also she must go up against her controlling mother. And Olly, too, must decide to just run away from everything to be with the girl he loves.
In the film, we realize that Maddy’s mother might be exaggerating the extent of her daughter’s sickness, either to keep closer control over her or to induce certain feelings in others (like pity). If you read a lot of the online reviews, they will refer to a well-documented illness called Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. This means that a caregiver exaggerates problems of those in their care in order to meet their own emotional or psychological needs.
The notion of the tragically short “happily ever after”
Where “Everything, Everything” will really pull on your heartstrings is when it forces the audience to confront the notion of the tragically short “happily ever after.” In fairytales, the “happily ever after” is usually a full lifetime. But in this film, the “happily ever after” might only be a few days, a few weeks or a few months.
As Maddy herself asks in the film, “Would you be willing to sacrifice everything to live one perfect day?” For her, that one perfect day means going to the ocean – a place that she has never seen, but has only romanticized in her imagination. And, of course, the film delivers the ocean scenes we want to see – the two young lovers cavorting in the ocean, learning to swim, kissing, and jumping off cliffs together. Is that not the very meaning of what it means to spend a perfect romantic day with someone else? Just you two together, in touch with nature, and free to explore your relationship away from prying eyes.
We’re definitely looking forward to more films from Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson after watching “Everything, Everything.” Amandla is still a relatively unknown actress – she’s been in “The Hunger Games” and “Sleepy Hollow,” but is still such a new, fresh and charming on-screen presence. Ultimately, she’s one of the main reasons why “Everything, Everything” is the perfect teen romance. She perfectly conveys what it is like to live inside a bubble, and then to have the courage to step outside that bubble to experience the world around her. If you enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s #1 bestselling YA novel of the same name, you will absolutely swoon over this movie.