Going to see a movie with a physician, this is what you hear:
“An airplane? That’s a flying incubator of germs.”
“She should go to a buffet.”
“Cut your feet on coral in the ocean, and get some bacterial infection.”
“She should go to a daycare.”
Ahh, teenage love, so full of hopeful dreaming and unrealistic expectations about…everything! We found ourselves sitting with our feet up with adult skeptical eyes about teenage love.
The film stars Amandla Standberg who plays Madeline or Maddy, an 18-year old girl with SCID (severe chronic immunodeficiency disease). She has been in a world lacking color with no friends, behind hepa-filtered air, and never experiencing the life of a typical teenager. Her mother’s protective love, played by Anika Noni Rose, has shielded her from the dangers of the outside world.
It all starts with a boy on a moving truck, named Olly, played by Nick Robinson. This is where the movie could have turned into your typical summer teenage romance.
Instead, we were taken back to the nostalgia of our first crush. What teenage crushes, particularly your first one, bring is color to your world. You care about your clothes, your hair, you do crazy stunts to “impress” him. Not because you were taught that, but because you are a teenager. PS: It doesn’t change as you get older.
Maddy finds friendship and laughter with Olly. Her world gets more color, and he becomes more vulnerable with the girl who was seeing the world through new eyes. She didn’t have the cynicism of that we start to get as a young woman or man. Together, they were alive.
Sounds like a typical teen romance movie, right? Wrong.
The film has gotten criticism about its portrayal of living with a disability. We aren’t that type of movie critics. We enjoyed this film because of the bravery in which Maddy lived her life. Not because she was a girl that met a boy and did these crazy things, but Maddy lived it in bright color.
Maddy made us ask ourselves, grown women: If you had the chance to live your perfect day, what would you do? Would you be brave enough to live your life on your terms if the choices were between choosing life or choosing death?
The music supervisors and set designers carefully crafted music and designed a set that added to the story of living life on your terms. The books that Maddy reflected isolation and a desire to be free from an isolated world, such as “Invisible Man” and “Flowers for Algernon”. When she accepts the call to live with color, “Sound In Color” by the Alabama Shakes subtly reminds us how to live life. These elements added richness to the storyline.
When the lights went up, we both commented that we were pleasantly surprised. A great film to remind you of your first love, or sit and ponder your perfect day.
From the desk of Dr. Metzger:
I’m a romantic. I love love stories. This one had just enough teenage innocence and spontaneity to get me. Is the storyline completely believable? No, but who cares. It made me nostalgic about falling in love for the first time and kept me entertained for 96 minutes. They also played “Girl” by The Internet in a scene…another round of applause. Spoiler alert: For my germophobes, be prepared to gasp when you see all her real world “adventures”. She pretty much engaged in every contamination risk short of visiting a kids playground.
Directed by: Stella Meghie; Starring: Amanda Stenberg; Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose