‘Five Feet Apart’ review: Heartwarming teenage romance

A fun-filled, tearjerker love story of sick teens who aren’t allowed to touch comes with an unexpected twist on letting go in Five Feet Apart.

Based on a book by Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott, and Tobias Iaconis, Five Feet Apart is about two teens inflicted with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder that mostly affects the lungs and causes long-term difficulty in breathing and excessive production of mucus. Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) is an OCD-diagnosed fighter/vlogger who proficiently manages her treatments and medications, while her polar opposite Will (Cole Sprouse) is a hospital rule-breaker who’s jaded in participating to his drug trials for B. Cepacia – a bacteria he has contracted that further complicates his CF. Apart from being anxious of their unpredictable life expectancies, the two struggle with their strong desire for physical intimacy for each other.

Naturally, the two infuriate each other upon their first encounter. But as the rule of ‘opposites-attract’ say, an attraction easily blooms. There is a major caveat though as Will’s bacteria can easily be transmitted to other patients that have CF too. Stella may be a candidate for a new lung transplant, but for now, they have to stay six feet away from each other at all times, and that also applies to  the other ward patients. While the two teens try to work out the barriers of their relationships, they will also be forced to confront with their suppressed emotions as they try to figure out how to enjoy a normal teen life. The desire of living a carefree life contrasted with the necessity to take care of their well beings presents a difficulty in fostering their relationship, a tragedy that has been the most affecting part of the film. Their hopes of fighting an uphill battle together might not go to as they want it to be but this story sufficiently tells that love goes beyond physical connections.

Director Justin Baldoni delicately paints a wonderful presentation of not only a budding romance between two teens but also the hardships that CF patients have to go through. Not being able to touch or hug the person you’re fighting a similar battle with can be debilitating for a person who is in dire need of morale. In line with that, this film also presents great lessons on life decisions and valuing our family and friends. It’s not the same story with other typical hospital romances for the film showed a different perspective especially when it comes to letting go and acceptance. There are some parts that will make you squeal and there are parts where you might find yourself bawling in tears. The viewers will definitely be attached on how the two teens fall for each other despite their illnesses. It is in those difficult moments that you feel completely enamored by the vulnerability of the characters, a main aspect needed to deliver a heartfelt story.

Five Feet Apart gives us a picture how important a life is, challenged by a terminal illness as the main conflict. The hospital romance simply shows that every second spend with our loved ones matters. This is a film not just for people with sickness but for everyone who battles with the everyday challenges of life. It may lean on towards being cheesy, but one will enjoy the lessons and drama issues that revolves around it. Truly, every scene is fun and captivating.

The cast members do a remarkable and wonderful job in portraying their characters, making this film more watchable. Richardson plays such natural role on being a bubbly girl, showing both sides of vulnerability and spiritual strength as a patient. Sprouse, being the mysterious type he is, plays his role on a different level of charm as a sweet lover boy gifted with artistic skills. Together, they build up a great chemistry that should leave viewers yearning for more.

A story that will definitely leave a mark in your heart, Five Feet Apart takes you to an experience of fighting for life and love at the same time.

4 out of 5 stars
Directed by Justin Baldoni, ‘Five Feet Apart’ stars Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Parminder Nagra, and Claire Forlani.

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