Escape: a word that can mean more than a flighty journey, especially nowadays when the goings-on of our current administration are depressing and scary, to say the least.

Stella Meghie’s Everything, Everything is just that. A blissful escape from reality. Based on the novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything follows Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg), a teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything (after being diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency, also known as SCID and commonly known as “bubble baby disease”), falls for the boy who moves in next door: Olly Bright (Nick Robinson).

Once you are far away enough from your teenage years — which, in some cases, is as soon as you step onto a college campus — you start to become cynical with the makings of teenage angst and love. It’s easy to gag or metaphorically puke at the thought of two young teens falling into an epic love, but I can’t help but swoon. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how “cute” this movie was. I believe that’s the most familiar word that describes this film: cute.

The chemistry between our star-lovers, Stenberg and Robinson is palpable in a way that makes you melt. Stenberg nails the curious innocence of a young girl who has spent the entirety of her life encased between glass walls and Robinson has the makings of a teen heartthrob, embodying that mysterious and angsty teen who eventually opens up to the power of love.

What I loved most about this film and what actually seperates it from the basic “by-the-numbers” teen romances were the surreal visuals sprinkled throughout the film. I loved how Meghie inserted the audience directly into Maddy’s imagination. When watching the trailers, I actually wondered how they would make Maddy and Olly’s behind-the-window interactions engaging before they met and I was pleasantly surprised. Since Maddy never got to experience the actual world as is, she had to craft a world that stretched beyond any limits. Her imagination was her superpower and inviting the audience into her head — and into her mini architectural models — via makeshift dates between her and Olly satisfied me with a surreal sweetness.

Her mother, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) was definitely the epitome of a hovering mom and probably the antagonist to her curious spirit. On the flip side, her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera) was a softer spirit that edged on the dangerous side of enabling, but with the purest intentions. Pauline’s overprotective shield catapulted into a heartbreaking though admittedly predictable twist that still seemed satisfying enough due to the bigger-than-the-universe stakes involved.

Overall, Everything, Everything was a satisfying romantic and fancy-free film. It was everything that you needed in an escapist’s film. Even if you feel so far removed from teenage love and the many confusing feelings that comes with that, there is one thing that is universally relatable: if given the chance to truly live your best life, wouldn’t you risk it all to take it?

Everything, Everything is now showing in theaters!

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About The Author

Tonja Renée Stidhum is a screenwriter/director with cheeks you want to pinch... but don't (unless she wants you to). She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice... with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre.

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