I saw Everything, Everything last week in the cinema, because it didn’t release in the UK until August 18th. I had read and reviewed the book not long ago, and wasn’t a massive fan. Now that I’ve finally seen the film, does it hold up? Mild spoilers ahead!
The casting was good. Amandla Steinberg did a great job of portraying Madeline. Amandla was relatable, sympathetic and strong. I had a few problems with Nick Robinson’s Olly – he looked the part and acted the part, but they stripped his character of most things that made him unique – especially his active, fidgety, free-runner personality. The side characters were good – Ana de la Reguea portrayed Carla as I imagined: motherly, friendly and gentle. Madeline’s mother (portrayed by Anika Noni Rose) was probably my favourite portrayal – she was much more sympathetic and kind than she was in the book, which makes the ending so much more heartbreaking.
There were a few changes I disagreed with, however. Rosa became an actual character, as one of Madeline’s friends instead a character who was only mentioned. This would have been a great change – it would have made Madeline’s condition much sadder as they tried to focus on her only friend going off to college soon. It humanised Madeline, rather than making her that ‘princess in a glass castle’. But they didn’t. Rosa barely had any lines, or any larger role at all. I question why they even bothered. The other big change they made was taking away the detail that Madeline can only have specially-sealed, untouched books. In fact, it is Carla who gives her a copy of Flowers for Algernon. This makes the whole used-bookshop-wish-and-scene devoid of significance.
The overall aesthetic of the film was brilliant. The house was gorgeous, with everything pristine and white, touches of greenery and glass everywhere. I loved the block colours and the simplicity of Madeline’s clothing as the film progresses. However, the glass room that’s supposed to make Madeline feel like she’s outside was unimpressive. It had yellow walls as opposed to the tangible rock walls that Olly could climb. It had a boring blue sofa and no hint of that flowing water.
Some scenes felt displaced, as if they belonged in a different film. When Olly wrote messages with a sharpie on paper, it all felt too You Belong With Me. It wasn’t its own film, its own unique entity. Another scene was the strange Annie Hall-esque subtitled scene. It was silly, it took me right out of the film, it just didn’t work! However some scenes were totally unique to Everything, Everything, and there should have been more of those. These scenes were set in Madeline’s architecture models, set in her mind as she built them. Madeline and Olly’s texting conversation took place in the diner she’d built, complete with her astronaut. It was memorable, unique and quirky. I really loved those parts.
Overall it was an average teenage film. As per usual, with book adaptations it had that occasional unnecessary narration I wish I could have taken away. I wish they would just present things to the audience in conversation with other characters, or hint at it, we’re smarter than you give us credit for. I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t know if I’d watch it again. It was quite faithful to the book, so if you liked that, I imagine you’d enjoy. If you haven’t heard of it and you like teen dramas like TFIOS or If I Stay, this is definitely one for you.