Film Review: FIVE FEET APART (USA 2019) **

A pair of teenagers with life-threatening illnesses meet in a hospital and fall in love.

Director:

Justin Baldoni

FIVE FEET APART is an American teen weepie based on a script written and sold (they paid for this?) by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis.

FIVE FEET APART belongs to the genre of teen romantic comedies, the type I used to avoid when I was a teen movie-goer.  Films like LOVE STORY with corny dialogue like “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” or S.W.A.L.K. (SEALED WITH A LOVING KISS) with Bee Gee songs gave me goosebumps.   I hate goosebumps! Now after all these years, arrive 5 FEET APART, a film about two kids suffering from C.F. (cystic fibrosis) falling in love that is supposed to tug (and perhaps break) ones heartstrings arrives.  The film will be a bit too much to take in for many but still there is a healthy market for these teen tearjerkers.  The film also comes filled with cliches including that dreaded one of the gay best friend.

The film centres on Stella (Haley Lu Richardson from COLUMBUS and SUPPORT THE GIRLS) who has made a home in the hospital – comfortable and friends particularly for her caring nurse (Kimberly Hebert Gregory).  She meets another C.F. patient. Will (Cole Spouse from RIVERDALE) who has a bacteria that requires him to stay at least six feet apart from anyone one else with C.F.  Death will and has resulted in the past, according to the nurse who insists the rule be maintained.  Of course, the lovers break the rule, 1 foot at at a time.  She gets a stick 5 feet long to keep herself and the now true love apart.

There are a few but too many coincidences in the story.  One is the nurse who has already experienced an identical situation that resulted in death.  “It won’t happen again, not on my watch,” she insists.  Stella has a dead sister, from a diving accident who will make her guilty with the sister appearing in her dreams to bring up the tears several notches.  The parents are conveniently left out of the story.  So obvious is this fact, is that when Stella’s father suddenly appears at the end of the film, audiences will likely wonder: “I never knew Stella had one.”  The parents never visit.

Actors Richardson and Spouse do what they can with the limited material and fare quite well, all things considering.

The film’s soundtrack is filled with indie songs.  But it is so manipulative to observe the way these tunes are drummed into the audience.  In the hospital scene, the nurse and others move in slow motion so that the song on the soundtrack can be finished by the time the scene ends.

To the film’s credit, it reveals a few points of awareness of the disease.  The film is also too obvious in being politically correct, which includes a nurse that has to be black.

Stay hundreds of feet apart from this one.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClVX0_9rV8c

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