In so many ways, Everything, Everything is the same story as The Space Between Us, but with the roles reversed. You have a girl who has basically never entered the world for health reasons. She falls in love online (texting, emailing, etc.) with the boy next door, who (again just like The Space Between Us) comes from a troubled, abusive home. Because of her new love, she dares to venture into the outside world, knowing it could kill her. The two run away together and what starts as a very sweet and innocent romance turns very quickly into sex (so disappointing—even though it stays very sweet between them). Girl gets sick and nearly dies. She finds out some harsh realities about her family and in the end, she ends up with the boy. Pretty much the exact same plot in both movies…and in both movies, it works well enough to reel in plenty of young girls looking for a love story.
Why does it work so well? First off, Olly pursues her and he does it so sweetly. There is something in that sweet, young love, something in that shy awkwardness, something in the way he pursues her heart, that calls to something deep within our souls.
I feel like a broken record—both in the fact that I’m stuck on repeat and in the way I seem outdated when I say this, but… Again, I have to express my extreme disappointment that this movie, geared expressly at young teens, immediately and without any pause for question goes to sex. They spend more time debating whether or not it’s OK to touch and hold hands than they do deciding if they are “ready” for sex. Of course, I think they should wait till marriage, but can I just point out that in our modern world, the discussion is usually more along the lines of whether or not you’re ready to become sexually active… which is nauseating, but it’s at least a pause of recognition that this is a big deal. The movie doesn’t even give it that.
Heightening my sensitivity to the sex issue, is the fact that just before the movie I listened to three young teens talking about being on birth-control already and the pros and cons of different methods. One of the girls made the comment that she would, of course, be sexually active in the next five years, so she wanted to be sure she had the best solution for birth control. Sexually active – suddenly that term seemed so sickening to me, as if it’s no different than my saying that when I went to college I fully expected to be active in intramural sports. It’s just an activity that people look forward to actively participating in, a sport of sorts, and not the mingling of souls that comes from a lifetime commitment of love and marriage. And movies like Everything, Everything perpetuate that mindset, especially among young, impressionable audiences…especially when the two seem so pure and innocent and treat each-other so rightly in every other way. So much so that, frankly, people are actually hoping the sweet young couple will finally “do it.” I used to find myself hoping they’d finally kiss, or finally get married… now we are hoping they’ll finally just have sex. Think I’m overstating it?—the gaggle of teenage girls behind me in the theater literally cheered with excitement when it became obvious there was going to be a sex scene. They literally cheered.
Personally, I am concerned whenever I find myself rooting for sin to happen in a movie. We should never hope for sin to occur. It should grieve us the way it grieves the Holy Spirit. In Everything, Everything, not only do you want to cheer for them when they sin, you don’t even see it as sin. How could something so pure between them be sin, right? At least, that’s how it’s presented…that’s the lie we are being fed.
OK, morality rant (Biblical obedience rant) over… another reason the movie works, I believe is the two-fold mixture of real struggles and characters which are so pure and wholesome and innocent (in every other way). They are heroic in their responses to their problems. She has a life-threatening illness. She’s confined to her home and has a strict, over-bearing, controlling parent. She’s lonely and her dad and brother died when she was young. Yet, she is sweet, humble, respectful and obedient (until she sneaks around with Olly). She is brave and adventurous and strong minded. When she discovers her mother has been lying to her, she is honest about her pain, but also struggles to understand and forgive her mom. Really heroic. Olly is similar. He tries to protect his mom and siblings from an abusive, alcoholic dad. He’s cute, but humble. He protects and nurtures and cares for others with tenderness and strength. He values her humor and her brains even more than he values her looks. Both have very real struggles, but they respond to them with grace and love.
If it wasn’t for the sex (and the awkward focus on how she bulged out of her swimsuit top), it would be wonderful. It’s such a likeable movie. My friends and I had grins on our faces throughout the movie—it’s that kind, the kind that just makes you smile. It will undoubtedly fill hearts with longing and thoughts of love. It may even inspire people to be more kind, thoughtful, sweet and forgiving. It may encourage people to believe that there are “still good ones out there” and to wait until they find such a one. It won’t, however, do anything to encourage sexual purity.
I have been a bit remiss, however, in getting beyond the morality of the story and showing how it connects with the message of Christ, so let me take just a moment to do so. Christ is the great lover of our hearts. He pursues us. He loves everything about us, and just because He loves us, not because He wants something from us. That longing for a pure love that the movie arouses in us, it’s not only put there in our hearts by the Lord, it’s also something He plans to fulfill. In a movie about love, how can we not think about the God of Love? The God who loves perfectly. Who wrote the book on love, saying such things as, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.” In so many ways, it’s the longing for this kind of love that the movie stirs in us.
Questions for Discussion:
- What makes Olly and Maddy so appealing as characters? What makes their love so appealing?
- In what ways to Olly and Maddy demonstrate the kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13?
- What do you think about the sex between Olly and Maddy?
- How do you think the sex scene in this movie will affect the people who see it/influence the way they think about sex?
 1 Corinthians 13:4-8