Five Feet Apart Movie Review: In the footsteps of Fault In Our Stars

Updated: Apr 12, 2019, 15:56 IST | Johnson Thomas

The actors are amiable; able enough to gather empathy without going heavy-duty about their woes. Five Feet Apart is a genre flick meant to ply on your sympathies and does the job efficiently.

Five Feet Apart Movie Review: In the footsteps of Fault In Our Stars
Five Feet Apart movie still

Five Feet Apart
U/A: Drama romance
Director: Justin Baldoni
Cast: Cole Sprouse, Haley Lu Richardson
Ratings: Ratings

Justin Baldoni's film latches on to cystic fibrosis (CF) for its cause, and makes two teens go through the motions of suffering from the disease to develop its romance and effect. CF is a disease that makes its victim struggle for every breath. Those suffering from it rarely survive beyond the age of 10. So, of course, go ahead and blame advances in modern medicine for allowing the two protagonists to live on as teenagers.

They obviously can't risk any infection, and more so from the disease's fellow-sufferers, who are considered high-risk. At all times, they are meant to be separated by latex gloves; no touching, and six feet between them, at all times. The villain here is the disease; not parents or society.

The first rule to be violated is that of the distance. It conveniently becomes five feet, at the heroine's suggestion. Though the film's main premise is about keeping the protagonists interested and engaged in each other, despite their restrictions, it takes plenty of liberties while trying to establish their connect. They even break away from the hospital's restrictions and risking death when heading on a freakish date in snowy conditions. While they cavort in the snow with no care, viewers hold their breath watching their tragedy unfold amidst compulsive melodrama.

Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) treats the hospital as her second home. She is aware of her disease, stays strictly within her regimen, and looks forward to extending her life (through a lung transplant that offers her five years) while carrying the hope that a new cure may be developed. Her best friend Poe (Moises Arias) is back in the hospital and has his own relationship problems to grapple with. Will (Cole Sprouse), another teenage CF patient, receives an experimental drug to take care of his B-cepacia infection. While Stella is hyper-cooperative with those treating her, Poe and Will cope differently. Will, a cynic and rebel, is persuaded by Stella to keep up with his regimen. Of course, you know where this is going to end, but Baldoni lays on a few surprises along the way.

The director may have gotten his inspiration for this film from his documentary titled My Last Days, about the terminally ill. Reportedly, screenwriters Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis developed it further while Rachel Lippincott churned it into a best-selling novel later. Baldoni kick-starts the narrative with no-nonsense flair, zooming in on Stella and her friends as they party before she must return to her dreaded hospital routine.

Baldoni and cinematographer Frank G DeMarco keep the narrative bright and cosy, straying away from medical restrictions to chart a course that has the young hopefuls straining at every bit. The production design makes the setting look luxurious; unlike regular hospital set-ups. The actors are amiable; able enough to gather empathy without going heavy-duty about their woes. This is a genre flick meant to ply on your sympathies and does the job efficiently.

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