Five Feet Apart – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

March 21, 2019 by Roz Tarszisz
Read on for article

It’s hard being a teenager and even more so for one has a serious illness.  There have been a few American films in recent years on this theme – Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, which was sweet and funny and The Fault in Our Stars, also charming and both just a little schmaltzy.

This offering from director Justin Baldoni differs slightly in that both attractive leads have cystic fibrosis (CF).  Stella (Hayley Lu Richardson, The Edge of Seventeen) and Will (Cole Sprouse) meet while staying in hospital for treatment.  Stella is serious about taking her medication and doing the special exercises but Will has a more cavalier attitude. Their budding Romeo and Juliet romance is complicated because they are not allowed within spitting distance of each other in case they exchange bacteria which could kill them.

I kept wondering why the film is titled five feet apart (1.5 metres) when Nurse Barbara (Kimberley Herbert Gregory) keeps warning them to stay six feet (1.8 metres) apart but that does get explained eventually. Suffice to say, no kissing or close contact.

The viewer gains an insight into just how ghastly and debilitating CF is and how claustrophobic for its sufferers. Most of the action takes place in hospital.   Poe (Moises Arias), Stella’s friend of many years,  provides a foil and point of difference. It’s nice to see the lovely Claire Forlani playing Will’s mother.

The two young leads convey both their resignation and frustration at their fate, combined with their need to break free of the punishing regimen which keeps them alive.

For the sake of drama and moving the story along, I accept that film makers need some poetic licence but credulity can only stretch so far.  Baldoni cares about his characters and we come to care too but the final scenes were dragged out and left me feeling that a little schmaltz goes a long way.

3/5 114mins Rated M 2019  Released March 28

Starring Cole Sprouse, Hayley Lu Richardson, Claire Forlani

Directed by Justin Baldoni

Written by Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iconis

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