Five Feet Apart
Starring Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Claire Forlani, Parminder Nagra
Second rate genre films seem to come out in the early months of the year more than any other time. “Five Feet Apart” is a second rate “Fault in Our Stars.” Haley Lu Richardson (“Support the Girls“) is certainly on an upward trajectory, but she still doesn’t command the screen the way Shailene Woodley did. While it’s cancer movie verses Cystic Fibrosis movie, “Five Feet Apart” goes to great lengths to document and explain CF to the common viewer, but these films have taken so many liberties in the past, it’s hard to know if what they are showing is authentic or manipulated for “romantic effect.” Like most of these dying teenager love stories, “Five Feet Apart” is meant to be a tearjerker. The “I would rather live a few moments with you than die without ever knowing” moment is always just around the hospital corridor.
From an early age, Stella (Richardson) has suffered from failing lungs. Every birthday she celebrated was treated as if it were her last. Now 17-years-old, Cystic Fibrosis is something she has gotten good at living with. Through her YouTube videos, she helps spread information about CF and encouragement to others. She is friends with all the hospital staff and her OCD helps her cope with the organization and routine of her treatment regimen. That all changes when she meets fellow CF sufferer Will (Sprouse) who doesn’t share her optimism and takes his treatment less seriously. Stella feels compelled to help the brooding boy and her smile eventually wins him over. Will is being treated for a bacterial infection that prevents him from coming within six feet of another CF patient. His bacteria can be deadly to the others, which means no physical touch, no kissing, and the head nurse doesn’t even want them in the same room.
"Five Feet Apart" is a second rate "Fault in Our Stars."
The frequency of these types of films is having a desensitizing effect on audiences. We already know the impossible choices the lovebirds will have to make. With tragedy awaiting around every corner, the angle to which these films are written and presented has become stale. Perhaps every new generation needs a good medical love story I guess, but the filmmakers here seem lazy and unwilling to reach for something we haven’t seen before. Sprouse, who is wading into big screen territory after a childhood career on the screen, isn’t half bad, but the chemistry he lacks with Richardson further depletes the movies chances of survival.
The third act pushes the believability limits of what I think most audiences are willing to tolerate. Why do these teenagers have such free reign and access to all parts of the hospital? Why are their parents (who are mentioned as being loving and committed) never around? Why is the nurse discussing the progress of their treatment with the patient, isn’t that a doctor’s responsibility? These nit-picky questions shouldn’t even come to mind if the film was doing its job, drawing the viewer into the heartbreaking story. “Five Feet Apart” will satisfy young teens or fans of Richardson and Sprouse. Everyone else is likely to feel like this is something we’ve seen done better before.
The latest terminal teenager love story, keeps it’s distance from originality.