Teenage love beats dis­ease

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

yearn­ing, a princess trapped in a cas­tle. Be­cause of the se­vere com­bined im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency, or SCID, that makes her vul­ner­a­ble to life-threat­en­ing in­fec­tions, she’s spent most of her life within the her­met­i­cally sealed ex­panses of a glam­orous house in a tiny cor­ner of Los An­ge­les. (The film was shot pri­mar­ily in Van­cou­ver, with Mex­ico sub­bing for Hawaii at a cru­cial turn­ing point in the drama.)

Be­sides Maddy and her physi­cian mother, Pauline ( a flinty Anika Noni Rose), Maddy’s spir­ited nurse, Carla (Ana De La Reguera), and her daugh­ter, Rosa (Danube R. Her­mosillo), are the only peo­ple who ever en­ter the house. New neigh­bour Olly (Nick Robin­son) ar­rives just in time for Maddy’s 18th birth­day, a po­et­i­cally long­haired skate­board­ing prince whose first glance at Maddy, in an up­stairs win­dow, Meghie wrings for all its slo- mo ado­les­cent awk­ward­ness and grace.

He’s a trans­planted New Yorker who dresses in black and has a com­pelling way of look­ing at her, while Maddy is clad mostly in white, like a wait­ing bride. From mu­tu­ally en­chanted pan­tomimes across their fac­ing be­d­room win­dows, they ad­vance to late-night text con- vos. Meghie spares us an over­load of on-screen text by shift­ing some of those dig­i­tal ex­changes into a fan­tasy realm, plac­ing Maddy and Olly face-to-face in life-size ver­sions of the ar­chi­tec­tural mod­els she builds.

The fan­tasy se­quences – one in a swoop­ing mod­ernist li­brary, the other in a retro diner done up in Maddy’s favourite colour, aqua­ma­rine – are pro­duc­tion de­signer Charisse Car­de­nas’s strong­est con­tri­bu­tions to the film, candy-hued dream­scapes lend­ing the pro­ceed­ings a touch of the sur­real.

Back amid the show­room decor of Maddy’s home, Carla, who has a far warmer re­la­tion­ship with the girl than does her mother, quickly twigs to what’s go­ing on be­tween Maddy and the boy next door. Carla doesn’t take much con­vinc­ing to ar­range Olly’s visit across the sacro­sanct thresh­old. Soon, Maddy wants more than oc­ca­sional in­door vis­its, and is ready to risk her life for the mo­ments of con­nec­tion.

The screen­play by Good­loe ( The Age of Ada­line, The Best of Me) is a mix of ul­tra-ro­man­tic ges­tures and ul­tra- ob­vi­ous cues. Among the lat­ter are ex­changes con­cern­ing the cen­tral char­ac­ters’ fam­ily strug­gles – Pauline still mourns the hus­band and son she lost in an ac­ci­dent, while Olly, his sis­ter (Tay­lor Hick­son) and their mother are un­der the thumb of an abu­sive fa­ther. Th­ese plot strands aren’t al­ways well in­te­grated into the ac­tion, but a ma­jor twist is han­dled with a straight­for­ward sim­plic­ity that amps the hor­ror.

Through it all, from health set­backs to ground-shift­ing emo­tional break­throughs, the em­pha­sis is on youth­ful beauty and en­ergy.

Meghie em­braces the high de­gree of teen self-aware­ness, just as she does the young adult clar­ity of the story’s driv­ing metaphors. In the ex­u­ber­ance and ten­der­ness be­tween Sten­berg and Robin­son, Every­thing is a per­sua­sive ar­gu­ment for tak­ing chances. – Hol­ly­wood Re­porter

Every­thing, Every­thing.

Amandla Sten­berg plays Maddy in the new young adult ro­man­tic drama

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