Five Feet Apart
I love a good romance. Honestly, who doesn’t? if you don’t, I’m sure you’re a little broken inside. Girl meets boy. Girl plays hard to get. Guy continually woos girl. Guy learns girl is broken. Guy does something special to fix whatever girl is going through. Guy gets girl. Then, happily ever after.
Thank God things have changed some. Don’t get me wrong. I love the novelty of the classic romance films and Rom-Coms, but the conventions of what worked for us as a society in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s just feel stale at this point. The recent Rebel Wilson project “Isn’t it Romantic, at least pokes fun at itself in a satirical way which is refreshing.
In the case of first time director Jason Baldoni’s “Five Feet Apart”, this film must be categorized as the former.
So, you’ve got Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) a seventeen-year-old Cystic Fibrosis patient spending her prime High School years in a sterile hospital room. Excuse me, a movie worthy and impeccably decorated sterile hospital room. She’s a vet at this now. This most recent stint of treatments won’t get her down and she’s developed an over-controlling delightful O.C.D for all the things around her in which she controls outside of the one thing she wishes she could. Her body. A wrench gets thrown into the works when Will (Cole Sprouse) struts into the hospital, sicker than her, more cynical than her, and quips locked and fully loaded. His flirtations are shut down as they both know, because of their conditions a relationship together would not only drive Stella’s O.C.D wild but would most certainly kill them both. However, its Will’s bleak outlook on his life expectancy and poor up keep with his medicinal regiment that sparks an interest in Stella to fix him. You know, like how all women want to fix the men they claim they have no interest in.
A budding friendship and a sharing of insecurities blossoms into a complicated puppy love restricted by a distance that must maintain 6 feet apart. Stella’s relentless love and propensity to take control; she fights for one more foot of proximity and takes the risk of her life to get closer. A will they or wont they ensues until the death of a mutual friend who also shares the chronic disease throws the couples hope into a tale spin.
This film is not as simple as you would be led to believe. The simplicity is the plot but not its characters. Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse’s chemistry is as strong as the C.S in their characters bodies; highlighted supremely by Haley Lu. She’s a star and exudes every bit of her quality in every scene. Her expressed vulnerability grips you in her lower moments. Her intense vivaciousness enraptures you in the higher ones. Her smile is magnetic, and her range is wide. She turns out a stunning performance which is sure to garner her much attention for many films to come. Cole Sprouse is no slouch either. While some of the characterization isn’t as fresh, his role is well acted, and he has some good timing. His performance unfortunately doesn’t elevate the script and all the melodrama that comes with it.
Based on a true story, Jason Baldoni shares a glimpse into the lives of kids who are deprived the most natural desires we have, to touch. The film opens on a monologue shared by Stella expressing that immense desire to touch and feel and connect with someone or something. This story depicts teens riddled with difficulty physically and heart-breaking grief emotionally. While the cinematography isn’t game changing, it’s not bad either. A lot of this film is very much par for the course. The special moments that power through are from some of the performances and most of the others are paint by numbers and you can see a lot of everything coming.
As referenced earlier the melodrama in the script is a lot to overcome. The dialogue often is heavy but for all the reasons you wouldn’t think with regard to the themes expressed in this film. Kudos needs to be given to the amount of education dispensed about this illness that a lot of the audience may not know. When dispensed by Stella its honest and endearing. By the other supporting characters, it’s a drag and weighs down a lot of the scene.
The first 2 acts are decently paced and allow for a pretty romance but takes the often-traveled roads in the Young Adult romance genre to get there. It’s the 3rd act that ratchets up the melodrama to preposterous and immature levels you find yourself squinting often as to avert your gaze from the cheese on the screen.
Five Feet Apart is not your typical Y.A plot, but a very ordinary Y.A script. Haley Lu Richardson is one step closer to movie stardom and this film boasts a delightful score and soundtrack, yet too often your left rolling your eyes at all the over dramatized plot sequences and character interactions that makes this hard to distinguish from the rest.
Whew, I went this whole review without comparing this movie to “The Fault in Our Stars.”
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 6/10
Director: Justin Baldoni
Writer: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Laconis
Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias
Run Time: 116 mins