It’s like someone got the memo that Twilight isn’t a good love story and actually tried to do something different. The YA genre has been dead for quite some time, despite the fact that Hollywood continues to prop up its rotting corpse in the hopes of becoming the next Twilight or Hunger Games. But watching the trailer for Five Feet Apart and you realize that this wasn’t one of those movies.
Five Feet Apart is a film about a small group of teenagers who are confined to a hospital due to cystic fibrosis. The teens are not allowed to touch each other as their bacteria could be fatal to one other. One of the patients is a young girl named Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) who meets a boy named Will (Cole Sprouse) who she is quickly annoyed with. Stella is awaiting a lung transplant while Will is undergoing experimental treatment in hopes of dealing with his condition. The two begin to fall in love but must deal with the barriers that the hospital and their conditions have set in their lives.
Five Feet Apart is one of the most creative romance movies I’ve seen in years. Romanic dramas for a lot of people feel played out as they are full of the tropes that can make the film feel formulaic rather than genuine, not this film. Director Justin Baldoni goes out of his way to avoid those tropes. Dealing with characters who suffer from CF, checkpoints like holding hands, the first kiss, and sex scenes are thrown right out the window. This means the film has to tell a story to sell its emotion. Haley Lu Richardson, who is one of the most promising young actresses in Hollywood today does an amazing job as a dying girl struggling with control. With so much in her life that she can’t control, she becomes obsessive over the things that she can, even if that is other people. Cole Sprouse could have easily phoned this in as the ‘too cool for school’, sick kid but his character deals with life knowing that his outlook is bleak and refuses to be a victim of his disease. There is a powerful dynamic of our characters fighting the guilt of not only being alive but potentially affecting the ones around you. It makes the movie so much more likable than it’s genre’s processors.
Now apparently, there were some cystic fibrosis advocates who were upset at the concept of the film noting that the actual rule for CF patients is six feet apart, not five, however, the film actually does explain pretty well why they went with five feet so those complaints are a bit unfounded. The film is emotional, heartwarming, and will likely jerk your tears especially if you are a sucker for romantic movies. Five Feet Apart is a well-acted teen drama that gives hope that the genre can still be saved.