“Everything, Everything” is everything to me. My sisters and I had a girls’ weekend and watched the recently released movie together. When the credits rolled and the lights came on, I felt an intense wave of pride, sadness, and hope wash over me. I’ll explain why in the first reason you should watch this gorgeous film.
I am ridiculously proud that a Black woman, Nicola Yoon, wrote a unique, clever, heartfelt, romantic New York Times best-selling YA novel about a Black teen girl. It then successfully became a hugely marketed studio movie starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by Stella Meghie, fellow tenacious Black women. That’s amazing. That’s wild. That… doesn’t happen in Hollywood. In fact, according to Indiewire, Meghie is the only Black woman director with a wide-release movie in 2017. The worst part is that it’s disappointing but unsurprising.
In a letter on her website, Yoon said, “When I was a little girl, I didn’t see girls that looked like me represented in books very often. The reason Maddy in EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING looks the way she does is because I didn’t want that same fate for my little girl. I want her to know that she can be the hero of a story, and not just the sidekick.”
And at the same time…
2. Race isn’t the pressing issue
This isn’t an Issue movie at all. The goal isn’t to Learn a Lesson. “Everything, Everything” is about 18-year-old Maddy, just your average gal with a nearly nonexistent immune system who has been confined to her house her entire life. She falls in love with the cute boy next door (who hasn’t?) and decides to risk it all to see what else is out there for her. Oh, and she just happens to be Black and Asian American.
The white love interest, Olly, doesn’t need to be educated on the perils of slavery or advancements of the civil rights movement. Maddy wasn’t trying to convince him why he shouldn’t say the N-word. They were just two teens in love.
While the Issues are Issues for a reason and can’t be ignored and should continue to be depicted and addressed in the media, it’s an enormous breath of fresh air to see a story that tackles another aspect of life as people of color. Maddy could’ve been anyone. That’s why it’s so powerful that she was who she was. We’re just people too.
I know that this is just one drop in the bucket, but there have been drops before me and there’ll be drops to come. And maybe together we can make a monsoon.
3. The soundtrack will give you all the feels
The songs accompanying the most joyful and crushing scenes were perfect. One second you’re ebulliently in love with the help of Alessia Cara and the next, you’re as low as you’ve ever been and The Internet is fighting off a broken heart.
4. It’s fun to compare the film to the book
Our theater was full of younger girls who clearly read the book and were excited to see their favorite characters turned to life. The crowd tittered in anticipation of the Big Moments and hushed at the climax to soak it all in. I’m usually a stickler for reading books before seeing the screen adaptations (except Game of Thrones because ain’t nobody got time for that) but I couldn’t wait to watch this. And though I loved the reimagined conversations with Maddy and Olly, I’m looking forward to sitting down with the book and reading the original texts and emails myself.
5. Beyonce told you to.
Well, she did, in a way. Beyonce was present at the LA premiere of the movie to support Stenberg, who she featured in “Lemonade.” One of the scenes in the movie actually takes place in a field and brings you right back to that album’s beautiful aesthetic. But more than that, Stenberg is an artist who is passionate, not just about acting and music, but also social justice. She’s definitely a founding member of the rising #woke generation of Young Hollywood (hi, Yara Shahidi and Rowan Blanchard).
— Amandla (@amandlastenberg) April 24, 2016
Like I said. “Everything, Everything” is everything, and worth your time and money. Tell your kids, tell your wives.
Feature Image: IMDb