“Everything, Everything”

LOUISA: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Filmmakers attempting to break into the teen drama / romance genre seem destined to fail, mostly because of the candid authenticity of movies that came before like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Spectacular Now.” Whereas these films get almost everything right where coming-of-age adolescent angst is concerned, the plot for “Everything, Everything” feels like it’s filled with a watered-down insincerity.

The absurdity of it all revolves around the preposterous premise of author Nicola Yoon’s popular young adult novel (on which this movie is based). The story is about the life of a sweet 18 year old girl Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) who has a severe disorder with her immune system and is allergic to everything, including the outdoors. Maddy’s overprotective doctor mother (Anika Noni Rose) keeps her as a willing prisoner inside a glass walled house. When the dreamy and mysterious pretty boy Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door, the two are smitten (and of course with these two being teenagers, it’s love at first sight).

There’s an enormous amount of charisma and chemistry between the highly appealing young actors, and the performances are far better than you’d expect for a throwaway melodrama like this. Director Stella Meghie employs some clever ways to visualize the book, including having Maddy imagine elaborate fantasy sequences in her head when she’s simply texting back and forth (it’s a lot more interesting than looking at words on an iPhone screen).

But that’s where the positives stop.

There are so many far-fetched and ridiculous things that happen in the story that it becomes totally implausible and as a result, will take viewers out of the fairy tale experience that was obviously intended. Without giving away any spoilers, I kept wondering how a girl who most likely has no form of government identification was able to board an airplane, not to mention how her teenage boyfriend was able to rent a car.

Despite its many, many flaws, the film is sweet and innocent enough to appeal to the ‘tweens at which it’s aimed — adults would do better to skip this one.

Sundance Recap: “As You Are”


LOUISA:  3.5 STARS     MATT:   3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

It’s always exciting to see a film where you instantly know the director and cast are “ones to watch,” and this is one of those movies. “As You Are” is loaded with so much talent and originality that it’s shocking to learn this came from a first-time writer / director, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte.

The real star of this 1990s-set mystery are the young actors (super talented Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton and Amandla Stenberg), all fantastic and believable as a trio of angsty teens with some pretty serious problems of their own. Their relationship feels so real and rich and honest.

The director’s skills of working with his actors far exceeds his slow storytelling style, and he is able to get strong performances from each of them. I think we can expect some great things from this director as he hones in on his craft (the storytelling style on display here is very effective; the movie starts out with a gunshot in the woods and then is told in various flashbacks from different points of view — all interspersed with VHS police station interviews). We know something horrible has happened, but we don’t know what or to whom.

This movie isn’t perfect but it’s an engaging take on the classic coming of age story, and it had me fully immersed through the end credits.

MATT SAYS:

Set in the 1990s, “As You Are” is a coming-of-age movie that tells the story of two teenage boys growing up in upstate New York. While not polished, “As You Are” is a solid film. Supported by strong performances from its leads, the movie effectively channels the feelings of adolescent outsiders who are struggling to find their place in the world and amongst their peers. This is a great example of what independent filmmaking should be: a simple story, written well and supported by solid acting, told honestly.