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dir Stella Meghie
scr J Mills Goodloe
prd Elysa Dutton, Leslie Morgenstein
with Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube R Hermosillo, Dan Payne, Fiona Loewi, Sage Brocklebank, Robert Lawrenson, Peter Benson, Francoise Yip
release US 19.May.17, UK 18.Aug.17
17/US Warner 1h36
Pretty people: Stenberg and Robinson
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Warm and earnest, this is one of those teen romances that puts an impossible obstacle between two sharp and beautiful young people, then plays around at ways to bring them together while events twist and turn. Not much about the film feels realistic, but it's easy and likeable, with characters who speak in over-written dialog that bristles with intelligence and wry wit.
In her 18 years, Maddy (Stenberg) has never left her house due to a severe immunity condition. Schooled at home, her friends are all online and her only physical contact is with her widowed-doctor mother Pauline (Rose) and her nurse Carla (Reguera). Then just as she's feeling like she'll never get to experience life, a cute boy named Olly (Robinson) moves in next door. As they start chatting by text message, they become increasingly curious about each other. Eventually, Carla helps them meet, although they have to keep their distance.
Maddy's house is cleverly designed to juxtapose her with things outside using glass and reflections. Her text chats with Olly are played as face-to-face conversations in settings based on the elaborate miniature models Maddy builds. This makes their actual in-person encounters surprisingly thrilling. And even though the ongoing plot twists feel more than a little implausible, suspending disbelief is fairly easy. Especially for audience members who want to take a sappy romantic adventure.
Stenberg has terrific presence, playing Maddy as an improbably smart young woman lovestruck for the first time. She manages to add believability to the idea that romance is worth the risk to her life. But then, Robinson is playing the perfect boy, a handsome, charming outsider with a troubled family. Aside from being the requisite dreamy young man, Robinson gives the character an edge of authenticity. The only other proper character is Pauline, and Rose does a nice job at keeping her annoyingly inscrutable.
Yes, this is a movie that shamelessly targets yearning teen girls. Anyone with real life experiences will see it as the ludicrous fantasy that it actually is. So it's not really possible to give in to the filmmakers' efforts to wrench emotion or suspense from the narrative. But it's shot in that effortlessly glossy Hollywood style, making it easy to sit back and sigh at how nice everything is. Although since this movie plays so safely, and sticks to the rules of the genre, we quickly suspect where it might be heading.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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