“Five Feet Apart” is a classic young adult (YA) romance movie—a bad boy and a good girl meet, the girl is apprehensive at first, but boy and girl fall in love. In this movie, both boy and girl have cystic fibrosis (CF), so they aren’t allowed to be within six feet of each other—this is now a classic YA forbidden love movie.
Stella (the good girl, played by Haley Lu Richardson) has adapted to CF by creating detailed to-do lists, developing an app for her medication schedule, hyper-organizing her med-cart and vlogging to seem in control of her disease. She religiously follows her medication plan, never breaks rules and is content to stay in her hospital room reading and studying.
Will (the bad boy, played by Cole Sprouse) is also confined to the hospital and is taking part in testing a new drug for CF. Being the classic bad boy, he doesn’t stick with the medical routine and skimps on medications and treatments.
When Stella and Will meet, their relationship has complications. CF symptoms differ from person to person, so they can’t touch each other—or be in a close radius—because their bacteria could sicken or kill them. However, the two find ways to date and be around each other.
There are some cool things happening in the movie. Richardson is stellar as Stella—she is sweet and cheery but also convincing when she needs to be angry or sad. Sprouse is not as convincing. He never really expresses emotions. I know he is supposed to be brooding, rebellious and misunderstood like all bad boys are, but he is too dull. Even when he is in love with Stella, there is still no emotion.
Second, the director brings so much awareness to CF; the movie shows what daily life is like for someone with CF, and every little barrier, blockade and annoyance they experience in a given day. Personally, I didn’t know much about CF before seeing the movie, but the movie taught me a lot.
Lastly, the movie delivers a sweet message. The movie opens with Stella narrating about how important touch is to life—it’s a main form of communicating, and expressing emotions and feelings. The movie ends with her saying to touch and be with the people you love just because you can. The movie reminds the audience of touch—something so small we take it for granted and don’t know what life is without it. Touch and being around people we love is important and valuable, and we wouldn’t notice how crucial it is unless it was suddenly taken away.
This isn’t the best YA movie ever. It uses a lot of sick teenager movie clichés, and the concept has been done before in movies like “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Everything, Everything,” “My Sister’s Keeper,” “A Walk to Remember,” etc. Nothing really stands out or is memorable in this movie.
However, if you’re a fan of this genre and like cute hospital romances, go see it. Even if you don’t see the movie, do some research on CF and learn more about it, because it’s an important disease to be aware of.