Teen love with a twist shines in “Every Day”


"Every Day" features a handful of actors playing the same role of A. (Photo courtesy of Orion Pictures)

Some days you might wake up and wish you were someone else. Perhaps you wish you were more successful, more intelligent or just plain different. Maybe you even wish you woke up as who you truly see yourself as rather than what others see. What would happen if that wish actually came true?

That exact quandary is explored in depth in the new film “Every Day” based off of the wildly successful Young Adult novel of the same name. It’s a refreshing look at teen romance with an entirely unique perspective.

“Every Day” follows A, the person living out that wish. They wake up every day in a new body, always around the same age, and never the same person twice. They go through each day carefully, making sure to be conscious of the body that they are inhabiting and to be as cautious as possible to not disrupt anything. That is, until A meets Rhiannon.

When A wakes up in the body of Justin, the distant and often apathetic boyfriend of Rhiannon, they spend a day together in Baltimore and their connection is undeniable. From then on, A is determined to follow this feeling and take a risk to reveal the truth to her.

Angourie Rice stars as Rhiannon, a teen who falls in love with A, a person that wakes up in a different body each day. Based off of the acclaimed YA bestseller “Every Day.” (Photo courtesy of Orion Pictures)

What follows is an unconventional and entirely unique love story. Far from the common teenage love stories of today, “Every Day” adds a level of depth that is refreshing. David Levithan, the author and creative mind behind this story, explains the themes as being much more than  just young love.

“The more that I wrote the more I realized that really I was writing a book about choosing your own identity separate from the way that people look at you or that people perceive you or the preconceptions or biases they have against your physical form,” he said.

The theme of identity runs deep throughout this story. A is the manifestation of someone who has an ever-changing physical form; therefore their entire identity is formed from the soul. This allows for an exploration of identity and appearance in a new and interesting way. That is just one of the reasons that the book is a bestseller with so many adoring fans. Many readers have taken important messages away from this story.

“There are two reactions [to the book], which again, the movie embraces. The first is the notion of self-determination. You can actually come up with an identity that is contrary to what your biology is. A lot of times we talk about that in terms of gender but I think it’s also very powerful in other ways that our bodies define us,” he said. “There’s also the notion that love isn’t just about affection and intimacy; it’s really about seeing the person you love for who they are.”

Fans of the book, like myself, are going to be extremely pleased with the on-screen adaptation. Watching a plethora of diverse actors and actresses play one role was an entirely new experience and was incredibly well done. It brings a visual aspect that adds dimension to the book while staying true to the story.

“The concept of changing bodies every day and not being defined by your body, it’s one thing to read about it on the page but then to see 16 different actors playing the same role really gets it across in a way that I think the book can’t,” he said.

In addition to the paranormal conceit of the storyline, the film also lacks an antagonist which strays from what viewers are traditionally used to seeing. Instead, the lack of an antagonist allows for A and Rhiannon’s relationship to be focused on further, much to the benefit of the story and the audience.

“It was much more interesting to have the conflict be about identity, about love and about whether two people can get together under extraordinary circumstances,” Levithan said.

In place of a traditional antagonist taking the form of a character, the conflict is derived from A’s particularly difficult situation and what that means for their future with Rhiannon and beyond. As a person who has no stability in life, what does that mean for the ability to form basic connections and bonds let alone to fall in love?

This structure allowed for further exploration of the themes of self-determination and identity leaving the viewer feeling more satisfied in the end, even if that means with more questions about these concepts than answers.

While A’s story delves into important ideas about identity, the film also tells the story of teen love and what that is actually like. Under these particular circumstances, it is obviously more complicated than usual, but the depiction of Rhiannon and A’s love story is also incredibly touching and relatable. Essentially, it speaks to the cliche “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

“The secret to love and the secret to caring about other people is to recognize them not by their body but by who they want to be,” Levithan said. “It’s not just about physical attraction, it’s actually about understanding each other and recognizing each other for who they are.”

If you’ve ever found yourself feeling as though the world doesn’t see you the same way you see yourself, “Every Day” might be perfect viewing. Set to an incredible soundtrack fit for teens and adults alike, its a faithful adaptation of a book that was great for the same reasons the movie is.