Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse) are two teens in a local hospital, struggling with Cystic Fibrosis – a debilitating lung disease.
In order to minimize their risk of contracting deadly bacteria from one another, they must remain six feet apart.
Stella is obsessive compulsive and full of smiles and energy. Will is brooding, negative and a blunt realist.
These very different people embark upon a journey together where they each find a way to live instead of waiting to die.
Every year a teen romance is released. “The Fault In Our Stars” and “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” are a few excellent examples.
These films often follow a formulaic path through love and tragedy that throttles teenage hearts. “Five Feet Apart” is no different. Stella and Will struggle with their disease and the realization that death is their constant companion. Yet, they still manage to be teenagers when they can.
Director Justin Baldoni along with writers Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis weave themes of death and dying, inclusion and love to form what could have been a powerful story. However, it doesn’t quite succeed. The stereotypical plot is so predictable that audiences will quickly realize each character’s role in the film (Who lives, who lies, who sacrifices, etc). Add to this a mediocre performance by Sprouse. His Will is not dark enough, not romantic enough and not charming enough to elicit any strong emotion.
Richardson gives a better performance and succeeds in charming us in her girl-next-door way and tugs on our heart strings.
Although this film is weak in several areas, teens will love the film. It has a great soundtrack, brings awareness to this disease and its well worn plot will guide many an adolescents to tears.
“Five Feet Apart” may fail to wow seasoned adults to this sappy romance, but younger viewers will enjoy wallowing in this sad tale of love and learning to live.