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The dreamy young-adult romance "Everything, Everything" has the perfect scenario for angst-ridden teens everywhere: a beautiful young girl, locked away in the modern equivalent of Rapunzel's tower, believing that falling in love could literally kill her.
Maddy Whittier, played by Amandla Stenberg, is 18 years old, and since she was a baby she has lived in her antiseptic Los Angeles home. She is visited only by her mother, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), who is also her doctor; her nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera); and Carla's college-bound daughter, Rosa (Danube R. Hermosillo).
The reason for Maddy's imprisonment is that she has been diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency, a rare condition that leaves her unable to fight off even the mildest viruses and bacteria. Outside her immaculate home, protected by HEPA filters and irradiated clothing, she believes she would die.
Inside the house, she has internet access, takes courses online, reads voraciously and makes intricate architectural models. She doesn't fully know what's missing from her life until the day a new family moves in next door and the teen son, Olly Bright (Nick Robinson), waves from his bedroom window.
Maddy sees Olly is smart and funny, and soon a relationship-by-text-messages begins conversations cleverly depicted by director Stella Meghie with the teens face-to-face in Maddy's architectural models. Later, at Maddy's urging, Carla arranges to have Olly visit the house when Pauline's off at work, and the sparks are evident even with the two at opposite ends of the room.
Meghie and screenwriter J. Miles Goodloe ("The Age of Adeline"), adapting Nicole Yoon's popular YA novel, create a nicely realized melodrama of young love overcoming the biggest obstacle imaginable: the inability to touch or to experience the world together. Meghie's images of Maddy's high-tech home and her idealized view of the ocean the place she most wants to see if she could ever leave her house are picture-postcard gorgeous.
Without interesting young lovers, though, a YA romance is nothing, and "Everything, Everything" has two good ones. Robinson brings depth and dimension to the boy-next-door role, adding notes of darkness to Olly's carefree façade. And Stenberg, familiar to "The Hunger Games" fans as little Rue, is all grown up into a beautiful leading lady winsome and witty, with an iron core that propels the drama in a romance that's more moving than its outlandish "girl in a bubble" premise deserves to be.
Teens in love face a difficult obstacle her inability to leave her house in this touching, gorgeous young-adult romance.
Where • Theaters everywhere.
When • Opens Friday, May 19.
Rating • PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sensuality.
Running time • 96 minutes.