Another day, another YA film, but will this stand out from the others? Probably not.
Synopsis: A teenage girl is unable to leave her home because she has an immunodeficiency that makes her allergic to almost everything. However, her life changes for the better when she begins to communicate with the boy next door, and their relationship eventually inspires her to venture into the outside world. (Rovi)
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, and Anika Noni Rose
Writer: J. Mills Goodloe
Director: Stella Meghie
Running Time: 96mins
As long as there are teens, tweens, and whatever new thing in between, there will be YA novels and this YA films. After so many films, they begin to follow the same formula and this one was no different which will probably not come as much of a surprise. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Fans of these types of films will probably see this like they always have and this will probably not change the minds of non-fans.
As mentioned, this film is not overly original and simply coasts using the same YA tropes. This time, the story is about a pair of young people living different lives eventually coming together. Maddy is a teenage girl (Stenberg) forced to live inside her house do to a rare condition that makes her allergic to almost everything outside. Her life soon begins to change when she meets Olly (Robinson), the boy who moves in next door.
Evidence that not all YA novels are adapted seamlessly into feature films is that this film has the distinction of feeling both slow and fast at the same time. This was a relatively short film, clocking in at just over 90 minutes so more time would have beneficial. It tries to do a lot within its running time with many subplots that never become fully developed. It goes in a few directions, seeming like it wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to be.
The film focused heavily on Maddy and her experience and it was easy to relate to her as an outsider and using her vivid imagination in pretending to live the life she’s always wanted. Her relationship with her overbearing mother Pauline (Rose) stemmed from past family history but the film never really got into it with Maddy’s relationship with Pauline almost taking a backseat to her relationship with Olly. Their relationship grew slowly and felt forced the entire way so not even the decent cinematography and all the cliches could save their lack of chemistry.
Depending on whether or not one is in the film’s target audience, some may find their relationship endearing while other will find themselves bored with the film’s pacing and cheesy dialogue. While it keeps the melodrama to a minimum, the underdeveloped and rushed story leaves its emotional moments lacking the required impact, especially the last minute twist.
Despite everything else going on, the acting was still okay. The subject matter may be fluffy and eyeroll-inducing but both Stenberg and Robinson were committed. Stenberg was likable and carried the film early on as the shut-in Maddy and brought charisma to the role. Robinson was okay but he had the fact that his character was underdeveloped and that he had no chemistry with Stenberg going against him.
Overall, this was a safe, YA drama that doesn’t innovate the series at all but should still appeal to fans and only fans of the genre. The performances were okay but they couldn’t quit overcome the script and direction.
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