This is based on the 2015 YA novel of the same name, by Nicola Yoon. If you don’t know what YA is, then this probably isn’t the movie for you. It stands for young adult, and it is a hugely popular genre in literary circles, so it makes sense that so many of these books are being given the big screen treatment, since they already have a massive audience.
In this offering, an 18-year old girl called Maddy (Stenberg) suffers from a rare immune-deficiency disease, which prevents her from leaving her home. Instead, she lives in a sterile environment looked after by a nurse and her mother, Pauline (Noni Rose) who is a doctor.
She whiles away her days, building architectural models. When a new boy, Olly (Robinson) moves next door, she is intrigued by him, and decides that spending some time with him is worth the risk of illness. Wanting to see more of the world than the confines of her home, the two of them embark on an adventure that will change both their lives forever.
This is pretty standard teen fare, with a couple of cute star-crossed lovers trying to overcome the odds to be together. It’s not a new concept – Romeo and Juliet faced similar angst. It is a tried and tested formula that works, and I’m sure that the target audience will be gooey-eyed for the leads, and willing their story to work out.
However, anyone outside that audience may not find this engaging enough to maintain their interest. There is an air of whimsy about it that becomes tiresome, and even though I hadn’t read the book, I could see the plot-twist coming a mile away.
That said, there are some good performances. Noni Rose is excellent as Maddy’s mother, and deserves far more screen time than she gets here. The fantasy sequences, where Maddy transports herself into her models, are also fun. Overall though, there is nothing remarkable about this film. It’s not as tear-jerking as something like The Fault in Our Stars, and doesn’t have the action of The Hunger Games. Instead, it trots along at a gentle pace, as if showing reverence to its subject matter. However, this unfortunately means that it never feels like it ‘takes off’.
A nice film and a sweet story, but probably only really for a young adult audience, as there is little for anyone outside of that demographic to relate to.
In Cinemas Now! See Trailer below: