Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Ana de la Reguera, Anika Noni Rose
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Romantic drama directed by Stella Meghie in which the story centers on teenager Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, the only people she sees are her mother, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera).
Everything changes when a boy, Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door. Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, Maddy and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together, even if it means losing everything.
Maddy: [voice over] This is my favorite room. Most days I love it, because I can imagine the glass falling away and I’m outside. I don’t leave my house. I haven’t left my house in seventeen years. If I went outside, I’d die. Sorry to sound morose. Irradiators sterilize my clothes. I own a hundred white T-shirts. It’s my standard uniform. The airlock is a sealed room surrounding the front door. It’s airtight. Nothing can leak into the house when the door’s open. It’s not that I don’t want to go outside. I can’t. Simple viruses can kill me. It’s like I’m allergic to everything. What I eat, what I touch, they all have consequences.
Maddy: [voice over] I have severe combined immunodeficiency. My immune system sucks. Here’s a drawing to explain. In every drop of blood there are special cells called lymphocytes. Some of these lymphocytes are really good at fighting bad guys, like viruses and bacteria. But I have SCID, which means I have way fewer lymphocytes than normal. And the ones that I do have, well, they’re not so good at fighting.
Maddy: [voice over] My mom made me join a support group. Some of them are really sick. Others have a hard time with social interactions.At least I have the Internet. I exercise. I read a lot of books. When I’m done, I write short reviews.
Maddy: [voice over] I take an architecture class online. Whenever I make a new model, I put an astronaut inside. I can relate to him. I feel like an astronaut, stranded in space.
Maddy: [voice over] Every day feels exactly the same. Maybe today’s different.
[as she looks out her window she sees Olly for the first time sitting on the removal truck outside his house]
Maddy: [voice over] If you’re going to have an illness that requires someone to constantly watch if you’re still breathing, it’s convenient for your mother to be a doctor. I was diagnosed with SCID pretty early. My mom figured out what was wrong with me after eight ear infections and two cases of pneumonia. I couldn’t gain any weight as a baby. Most kids don’t make it past two years old.
Maddy: [voice over] Today is my birthday, I’m eighteen. Which means nothing inside here.
[her mother checks on her]
Maddy: [voice over] This is the face her patients normally see, slightly distant, concerned. I wonder if they find it comforting. I do.
Maddy: [voice over] Everyday was exactly the same, until Olly.
Olly: Hi. My mom sent a bunt.
Pauline: Welcome to the neighborhood.
Olly: Is your daughter around?
Pauline: No, she isn’t.
[after Olly writes his phone number on his bedroom window so that Maddy can text him]
Olly: [text] Are you under house arrest? I’ve never seen you outside.
Maddy: [text] I’m sick. Can’t leave the house, sick.
Olly: Are you on house arrest? I haven’t seen you outside once since we got here.
Maddy: No, I’m sick. My body can’t fight bacteria or infections. If I left the house I would die.
Carla: I see you checking your email and you keep looking out the window.
Maddy: He’s kind.
Olly: [text] Hey, Maddy.
Maddy: [text] Yes, Olly?
Olly: [text] You’re beautiful.
[referring to Olly]
Maddy: When I talk to him, I feel like I’m outside.
Olly: [to Maddy] I wish I could meet you in person.
[to Maddy; referring to Olly]
Pauline: He sounds wonderful, but you can’t see him.
Carla: He’s here.
Maddy: Who’s here?
[Maddy fidgets nervously in her chair when meeting Olly in her house for the first time]
Olly: I understand you’re nervous.
Maddy: Okay, I’m nervous.
Olly: So am I.
Maddy: You’re really different than I thought you were going to be.
Olly: Sexier, right?
Olly: What would happen if you went outside?
Maddy: Probably spontaneous combustion. Here I have pepper filters, outside is viruses and bacteria.
Olly: Where would you go, if you could?
Maddy: The ocean. I’ve never seen it.
Olly: Where would you go, if you could?
Maddy: The ocean.
Olly: The ocean?
Maddy: It’s three miles from here and I’ve never seen it.
Olly: Are you sure you feel fine?
Maddy: Actually I feel perfect.
Maddy: I think it’s weird to miss something that you never had. Or, you know, don’t remember having.
Pauline: [to Carla] It’s not up to you to decide what she needs! You have to go.
Maddy: She was my friend.
Pauline: She was supposed to keep you safe. You can’t see him again.
[writing a letter to her mom]
Maddy: [voice over] Dear mom, I know staying in this house keeps me alive, but this isn’t living. I want to experience everything. Everything. This is all I want.
[writing a letter to her mom]
Maddy: [voice over] Dear mom, I found this new part of myself when I met Olly, but if I don’t go I won’t really know what it’s like to be alive. I have to do this.
[after stepping outside her house]
Olly: Maddy, what are you doing? Go back inside!
Maddy: No, Olly, I have to know if I’m really sick and the only way that I’ll know is if I’m outside.
Olly: Maddy, what’s wrong?
Maddy: I’m messing up your life.
Olly: My life is better with you in it.
[Maddy shows him the swimming costume she’s tried on]
Olly: It’s, uh…
Maddy: [to Olly] We shouldn’t push our luck, but I want to.
[after kissing Olly]
Maddy: Is it always like this?
Olly: It’s never like that.
Pauline: Madeline, you’re all I have left. I can’t lose you!
Pauline: Why would you risk your life?
Maddy: It was easier, where I knew who I was supposed to be.
Maddy: I’m willing to sacrifice everything just to live one perfect day. And I will.
Maddy: [voice over] The universe already took my dad and brother away from my mom. She was afraid to lose me, too. So she made herself believe that I was sick. I can understand how she felt. Almost. I’m trying to. My mother loved my father. He was the love of her life, and she loved my brother. He was the love of her life. And she loves me. I am the love of her life. I want to forgive her. But right now, all I can think about is everything I’ve missed. I’ve been trying to find the single moment that set my life on its path. Maybe there’s a version of my life where I’m sick. A version where I die in Hawaii. Another where my father and brother are still alive and my mother’s not broken. There’s even a version of my life without Olly in it.
[last lines; Maddy runs into Olly in a book store]
Maddy: Hey. Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you could just change one thing?
Olly: What if changing one thing made things worse?
Maddy: What if we hadn’t met?
Olly: But we did.
Maddy: We did. I’m sorry that I didn’t say goodbye.
Olly: Are you sure you should be here?
Maddy: Probably not. What if today was the first day that we met?
[Maddy steps closer to Olly]
Maddy: I’m so happy to meet you.
Olly: I’m so happy to meet you, too.