Looking for a cinema tip? Check out the the latest film from director Stella Meghie. If you’re into visual-storytelling ‘Everything, Everything’ might be right up your street, says reviewer Eepsita Gupta.
A drone shot capturing a white dress clad Maddie Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) floating in the middle of a blue ocean, and eventually in the middle of the white movie title that appears on the screen. That is how you are first introduced to ‘Everything, Everything’ — a movie based on the best-selling young adult novel by Nicola Yoon.
Right away the plot reveals itself: 18-year-old Maddie has, for her entire life, lived within the confines of her sterilized house after being diagnosed with SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency) as a baby. Her only human interaction for all these years is limited to her mother, a single-parent and doctor by profession (Anika Noni Rose), her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera) and Carla’s teenage daughter Rosa (Danube Hermosillo). Maddie’s source of entertainment, unsurprisingly, is limited to watching cat videos on the internet, building miniature architecture models from her online classes and playing phonetic scrabble with her mother.
However, when the attractive teenager, Olly (Nick Robinson), moves in next-door, her entertainment quickly gravitates towards textual quipping and romantic fervour — possibly the first time she ever experiences the rush of a teenage crush.
From then on, the movie moves on to explore her internal conflict between choosing safety and familiarity, or exploring unknown territories by chasing the intensity her heart has newly discovered. Maddie increasingly defies her reluctant mother with the predictable result that impulse, excitement and rebellion drive the story forward. Until an unforeseen revelation leaves a slightly jaded audience relatively stoic by the end.
With regards to the movie’s visual storytelling, however, director Stella Meghie has a lot to offer. Right from the first shot to the interiors of Maddie’s make-believe real-world-home, Meghie creates clean, comforting visuals. Presenting text conversations between Maddie and Olly as human interaction in pastel-coloured backdrops — imitations of Maddie’s miniature-architecture models—consistently maintains the aesthetic storytelling.
What makes this almost wonderfully surreal — both visually and dramatically — is the placement of an astronaut in this abstract space. Replicated from Maddie’s miniature-models, in which she always includes an astronaut figure, it is a metaphoric reproduction of the strangeness and futility she experiences stranded within her house: analogous to an astronaut in space.
Weaving a rather endearing element in the movie is the recreation of a famous film scene from ‘Annie Hall’: the verbal conversation between Olly and Maddie is accompanied by subtitles spelling out their unspoken apprehensions, giving the viewer an honest, unadulterated experience.
While both Amandla and Nick are extremely convincing on screen, Olly’s character shows more potential for development (though, I’d tend to give the benefit of doubt to the director whose creative priority is clearly Maddie). The story also manages to capture a mild mother-daughter dynamic besides the obvious teenage romance.
With artists like José González, Beyoncé, Betty Who, Billie Eilish, the background score manages to match the visual storytelling — both by the ambient music for the aesthetics, and the beats to keep up with teh emotionally rattling pace.
Largely, “Everything, Everything” is everything you’d expect from a sick-girl-romance movie. If story-line is what thrills you in your cinematic experience, unfortunately this one doesn’t offer much. However, the talented and lovely Amandla and Nick, deliver an effortless performance and carry the movie forward. Moreover, if you’re even half as enticed by visual-storytelling as I am, this is definitely a movie you’ll enjoy watching. Yet, coming from Warner Bros., you may find yourself expecting just a little more.
Overall score: 3/5.
Text: Eepsita Gupta
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