Five Feet Apart Paints a Beautiful, Genuine Story of Two Star-Crossed Teens
April 25, 2019
CBS Films release Five Feet Apart tells the touching story of two Cystic Fibrosis-diagnosed teens who put their lives in danger for love. The movie is designed to pull at your heartstrings and successfully does so. Distinctive from sappy romance stories, Five Feet Apart offers a revitalizing and deeply raw love story. Just don’t forget to bring a handful of Kleenex.
The film opened to a successful $70 million worldwide and has a 96% Google user approval. Since the movie was relatively low-budget, the outcome was satisfactory for the filmmakers.
The fresh concept on sick teen romance is poignant and powerful and undoubtedly a refreshing break from the stereotypical romance films. The film provides a welcome representation of the issues CF patients deal with, from the mucus build up to harsh medication regimens and extended hospital stays.
The movie centers around two patients battling Cystic Fibrosis, stationed in a hospital for treatments for the disease.
Female protagonist Stella lives a life of pills in pudding and drab hospital walls. Stella is determined to brighten up whatever she can by decorating her hospital room with her sister’s vivid artwork and keeping a strictly organized color-coded pill cart. Despite the surety of death, she lives a life of zest and feels like the hospital is a second home.
A bit “hospital OCD,” Stella is insistent, and somewhat obsessive, about keeping a rigorous meds routine, as she feels it is the only thing she can at least control in a life where CF destroys everything. With a Youtube diary and best friend Poe to video chat over breakfasts, Stella is content until rebellious and unorganized patient Will shows up to the hospital for a drug trial for his dangerous B. cepacia bacteria infection.
While Stella is a compulsive list-maker and rule-follower, Will is quite the opposite. With fluffy hair and a snarky attitude, Will showing up to the hospital disturbs Stella’s everyday routine.
While she is constantly reminded to stay six feet from Will from the risk of cross-infection, Stella is unsettled by his unorganized lifestyle. As she begins to force Will to take his meds alongside her, she finds herself attracted to him more and more. The aching distance between them allows for a touching and tearful romance story.
With a pool cue to measure their distances, Will and Stella fall in love over the course of med-taking video chats and bittersweet dates. Their lack of touch makes the scenes all the more intimate and raw.
Will insists on the fact that they are dying anyway and wants to do whatever he can to get closer, every way but physically, to Stella. Stella boldly steals a foot back from the disease that damaged every part of her life to fall in love with Will. Will they be able to keep their gnawing distance or will they risk their own lives for affection?
Haley Lu Richardson’s performance of Stella helps save the film from bogging down in an everyday unauthentic melodrama. In a character that could have potentially been a shallow caricature, Richardson brings a new and revitalizing depth to Stella’s character. She portrays a deep soulfulness to all of Stella’s rage and grief she experiences that feels authentic and real.
“It’s not like this is a made-up world. It’s a made-up story, but it’s not a made-up world, and cystic fibrosis is such a real thing that not a lot of people know about,” Richardson said in an interview with Hollywood Reporter. “Being one of the first outlets that this very real disease is represented, in such a big way of a studio movie, you have to do it as right as you possibly can. You have to do as much justice to it is as humanly possible.”
Richardson helps outshine the somewhat formulaic and forgettable aspect of the film with her energy and passion towards the role. Richardson’s (Stella) and Sprouse’s (Will) charismatic acting appeals to fans all across and brings about a beautiful chemistry for the film.
“I felt that the actress for the main role was perfect. She was exactly as I imagined her to be,” PHS librarian Eles Renfroe said.
The film portrays a powerful new meaning on the reality of the Cystic Fibrosis disease. Will’s line “It’s just life, it’ll be over before you know it,” brings a harsh and tear-jerking realization to the disease.
“We really wanted to make [the film] as accurate and grounded as possible. I feel like these types of movies don’t have as much impact, because the story is a love story, about what people go through to find each other and it’s so epic,” Richardson said in an interview with Wonderland Magazine.
“And it’s so heavy, and beautiful, and it’s so much about all of those things, that the actual characters, and their dialogue, the conversations with each other, and what they looked like, had to be as stripped away and grounded as possible, or it would just be an unbelievable movie. And we want people to know that CF really exists, and want people to really feel the struggle of these people, and to believe the hardships they are going through, and what they overcome, and then, you know, they connect, and are really inspired as opposed to movie-world inspired,” Richardson finished.
The film offers a new original side to teen romance by bringing a truly touching, genuine love story to movie screens. It undoubtedly works in the waterworks department and leaves fans with a melancholic heart and aware mind.
“It has to be this intimacy and the connection has to come from their conversations and their opening up to one another, which is a really interesting thing to explore as an actor, and I think to watch as an audience member, it’s pure, innocent and intimate because of that,” Richardson stated.
The film manages to humanize the effects of the disease, and though the Cystic Fibrosis community has been divided about the way they are being portrayed, Five Feet Apart is overall a feel-good and worthy watch.