The new film based on the 2015 Nicola Yoon novel drew mixed reviews but hits the mark with its target audience

By Maureen Lee Lenker
May 18, 2017 at 06:24 PM EDT
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Everything, Everything
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Summer movie season isn’t just for the action-packed tentpoles.; studios have been making room on their release calendars for angsty young romance based on best-selling novels (see: Me Before You, The Fault in Our Stars), and 2017 is no exception. This summer’s entry is Everything, Everything, based on Nicola Yoon’s popular 2015 YA novel about two teenagers falling in love, one of whom is confined to her house due to an immune deficiency. The film could run the risk of being another Nicholas Sparks-inspired schmaltz-fest, but its source material suggests its ability to transcend its genre. Was it able to successfully navigate the perilous seas of the stereotypes of a tear-jerker YA film?

Critics are posting mixed reviews, but they are mostly in agreement that, in spite of its pitfalls, the film manages to deliver an enjoyable tale that will delight its target audience. One thing they all conclude is that leading lady Amandla Stenberg has delivered a star-making performance. EW’s Devan Coggan writes of the film, “Instead of delivering a Nicholas Sparks-ified tale of rowboats and tearful confrontations in rainstorms, Everything, Everything feels like something fresh. Director Stella Meghie sidesteps the pitfalls of your typical YA movie, delivering a gorgeous and sweet story that you can’t help but fall in love with.”

Read on for more from Coggan and other critics.

Devan Coggan (Entertainment Weekly)
“Stenberg is best known as the brave Rue from the original Hunger Games film, but with Everything, Everything, she cements her status as a rising star. As Maddy and Olly start trading texts, Stenberg’s protagonist is funny, shy, flirty, brash, brilliant, nervous, and selfish — often all at once. Her Romeo is a little bit more typical, the classic misunderstood loner who wears all black but has a heart of gold. But Stenberg and Robinson have chemistry that sparkles, and they play their romance with an earnestness that captures all the joy and awkwardness of first love. (Notably, the film is also a rare example of an interracial romance on screen, as Maddy is biracial and Olly is white.) One of the things that sets Everything, Everything apart from your run-of-the-mill teen weepie is Meghie, who brings Maddy’s world to life by playing with color and creative cinematography.”

Neil Genzlinger (The New York Times)
“The story needs the perfect Maddy, and Ms. Meghie finds her in Amandla Stenberg (Rue from “The Hunger Games”), who is utterly convincing as a teenager full of longing but resigned to her circumstances. Nick Robinson (“Melissa & Joey”) pairs with her nicely as Olly, who has his own burdens thanks to a father with a drinking problem. . .The story loses credibility at the end, but the demographic that is the main target here won’t care; it will be caught up in the romance, rooting for a young couple that’s hard not to like.”

Claudia Puig (The Wrap)
“The film is at its best when it stays on more durable storytelling turf — first love. We get a palpable sense of the heady excitement, the awkwardness, the simple thrills that accompany that rush of affection and hormones. Stenberg and Robinson play it just right, fully committed to their roles — equal parts dewy dreaminess and wry humor — mostly communicated through dual panes of glass. We believe their happy surprise when Maddy asks Olly after their first tender kiss, “Is it always like this?” and he replies simply: “It’s never like this.” Everything, Everything gets several things wrong, but it’s admirable in the way it easily embraces diversity and rings true in its depiction of the first blush of love.”

Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter)
“When the longed-for first kiss between neighbors Maddy and Olly arrives in Everything, Everything, the air around the two young lovers shimmers with the reflection of July 4 fireworks. . .Working from J. Mills Goodloe’s adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s debut young adult novel, director Stella Meghie wisely emphasizes the sensuous aspects of this story of awakening. Jolts of humor and fantasy bring welcome texture to the romance-novel sleekness, as do the leads, who both have an uncommon, idiosyncratic allure. While the young-love melodrama isn’t about to entice older viewers, the target audience will swoon.”

Katie Walsh (Los Angeles Times)
“Aside from its leading lady, what Everything, Everything has going for it is its light, fantastical aesthetic and unexpected sense of buoyancy. Maddy has a highly developed imagination, informed by the books she reads, and the architectural models she builds. Director Stella Meghie sets the text conversations between Maddy and Olly in the diners and libraries the aspiring architect creates. It brings a visual intimacy to their budding connection and a quirky sense of humor and style to what could be rather maudlin and staid proceedings.”

Joe Leydon (Variety)
“Even before things start to fall apart, Everything, Everything is too dreamily slow-paced for its own good, thereby allowing too much time for viewers to question minor details they might not have noticed were they fully engaged with the narrative. (How did Maddy, who hasn’t left her house in 18 years, acquire the photo ID she’d need to board a plane? And how does she intend to pay what must be a humongous credit card bill?) On the other hand, viewers who actually prefer their romantic dramas to be dreamily slow-paced likely will be willing to ignore such minutiae and simply go with the flow. Indeed, they may even shrug off the third-act reveal as a minor speed bump on the road toward a crowd-pleasing resolution.”

Everything Everything

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Stella Meghie