Book adaptations can be a hit or miss in film, especially for young adult novels. Often times it is difficult to do a story justice when adapting it for the big screen, a transition that tends to lose the essence of a novel. Some young adult adaptations have been successful, few that come to mind include The Fault in Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Others not so much. I read Nicola Yoon’s novel Everything, Everything recently in anticipation of the film. While not particularly groundbreaking, the book itself was pretty enjoyable. I am afraid I cannot say the same for the film.
Based on Nicola Yoon’s 2016 novel of the same name, Everything, Everything tells the story of Madeleine Whittier (Amandla Stenberg), an 18-year-old girl who has spent her whole life confined to her home as a result of her severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). When the effervercent Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, Madeleine’s life changes as she discovers the life outside that is calling to her to live it.
This adaptation could have been better. Much, much better. I was extremely disappointed with the screenplay, which gave a talented cast very little to work with. Amandla Stenberg is perfectly cast as Madeleine, but any pauses she gives or perceived lack of chemistry between her and Nick Robinson can be attributed to a poor script. It felt like bits and pieces of the novel were patched together quickly to make a rough outline of a story slightly resembling Nicola Yoon’s. Thus, large gaps were left that easily could have been filled. The film only runs at an hour and 36 minutes, and while I’m not saying it needs to go overboard, time should not have been an issue when crafting the story and dialogue.
The lack of development between the characters was disappointing. The relationships between Madeleine and her mother as well as Olly and his father were not built up enough. Olly’s introduction and interactions with Madeleine felt extremely rushed, along with most of the film. Characters scarcely mentioned in the novel were given unnecessary screen time, while others barely anything. Small details that should have been easy to include were left out for no apparent reason. The pacing of the film was so quick that I failed to become invested in what was going on.
While I do appreciate some additions to the structure, such as Madeleine and Olly acting out their phone conversations in the architecture models, the majority of the film simply felt weak. Again the cast was talented and Stenberg held up her scenes well, but the script could have provided some much more developed and touching interactions between the characters. Filling up the gaps with missing dialogue and scenes could have better rounded out the film. While its target teenage girl audience will most likely fall for the film and it’s attempted charm, others not so into young melodramatics might not be as pleased.
ALL IN ALL: Everything, Everything fails to offer anything new to the genre, with a rushed and patchy screenplay that provides little development for well cast characters.
Director: Stella Meghie
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera
Run time: 1 hr 36 min, PG-13