Summary: A teenager who’s lived a sheltered life because she’s allergic to everything, falls for the boy who moves in next door.
Cast and Characters. I think everyone is really good in their roles. Being that these are characters from a young adult novel, with the exception of Maddy’s mother, I think everyone fills those roles really well, they look like their characters and feel like their characters in the book. Maddy’s mother is Japanese American in the book and her father was black, it looked like they switched it in the film.
Amandla Stenberg as Madeline “Maddy” Whittier. Maddy is an 18 year old girl who is living with a disease that prevents her from going outside called “SCID”. It pretty much means that she could die if she goes outside. She’s lived her entire life in her house. However, she manages to have a pretty positive outlook on life, she knows what her limitations are but that doesn’t stop her from longing, especially for the ocean. When she sees Olly’s family moving in she’s immediately drawn to him and she watches him to know more. When they start talking, it’s a bit easy to see that she’s nervous but she wants to know more about him. As time goes on, she wants more and more, and she even risks her life to run outside to see if Olly is okay when he gets into it with his father. Maddy puts her passion into everything. I like Amandla, and I thought she was well cast here. She was soft spoken most times, but she was able to maintain a kind of fierceness about her. She ended up being a little forward which for her, was good and it made sense instead of her just being pulled along by Olly. I had massive hair envy of her as well. The film really rests on her shoulders and I think she led it well.
Nick Robinson as Oliver “Olly” Bright. Olly is introduced when Maddy looks out her window and sees his family moving into the house next door. After he and his sister bring over a bundt cake, he shows his interest. As the story continues, he continues to try to reach out to her in different ways, he uses a bundt cake to make her laugh, he gives her his number, he asks her questions and he seems open but I think he also showed that he had his own secrets which we learned. I liked Nick Robinson, I’ve only ever seen him in Jurassic World and his character was meh, but here, he was able to have a bit more fun. He was able to really fall in love, to worry about her, to worry about his family, to have fun and show her fun things. It was cute seeing him care so much and the way he looked at her, I thought he did very well. I was a little sad that they didn’t keep physical stuff he liked to do. In the book, Olly, liked to climb on stuff, he would climb up on his roof a lot. However, I do like they had him have longer hair whereas in the book he had a shaved head.
Anika Noni Rose as Pauline. She’s a doctor, she works in a hospital but she also makes sure that Maddy is well cared for. She’s not always around but when she is, she and Maddy have fun. They play Phonetic Scrabble, they watch movies together and it’s clear that Pauline loves Maddy. She might be a little bit of a curious person though. I think Anika Noni Rose does a good job, she has great chemistry with Amandla, I believed that she was her mother, I thought her performance was also very understated. When she finds out that Maddy had been talking with Olly, she doesn’t freak out, she sits and talks with her in that knowing motherly tone. I was actually surprised because I think she freaked out a bit more in the book. I appreciated that it wasn’t overly dramatic. There’s also a scene towards the end, an emotional scene between mother and daughter, and again, I thought Anika Noni Rose was really subdued but emotional in how she performed that scene.
Ana de la Reguera as Carla. She has a larger part in the book, but Carla is Maddy’s nurse, had been for years and a friend to Maddy. She, in the beginning knows that something is different once Maddy starts talking with Olly. She spends her days with Maddy and knows her so well, that she walks into a room and knows something is different. She even allows for them to meet in person because she wants Maddy to have something to experience. She’s very supportive, she loves Maddy and she’s also funny. Once she learns that Maddy wants to keep Olly from coming over from her mother, she wonders about her own daughter keeping secrets.