Two out of four
“Five Feet Apart” is like walking into a Victoria’s Secret. You know exactly what they sell, what the styles are and who the target audience is. As long as you’re not looking for fishing gear, you’ll be satisfied.
“Five Feet Apart” is the classic sick-kids-fall-in-love storyline reminiscent of “A Walk to Remember” and “The Fault in Our Stars.” You can see the romance, the water works and the cliches coming from a mile away, but like a deer in headlights you’re frozen and can’t break away from the coming tragedy.
The disease this time around is CF, more commonly known as cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disease. Both our young lovers have it. Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) is obsessed with her treatments, keeping lists, making sure she does everything right and following the rules so she can get better. She is the cliche straight-laced, uptight rule follower.
Then she meets Will (Cole Sprouse). He doesn’t take his meds. He doesn’t care if he lives or dies. He enjoys breaking the rules and teases Stella about her habits — the typical bad boy.
In a shock to no one, Stella begins to help Will with his medication and treatment. They become closer, and romance blooms like a bacteria in a petri dish. The catch is that Will and Stella must stay six feet apart at all times because she could get sick and die from his CF germs.
The plot is predictable from there, stolen moments together in hospital wards, getting five feet away from each other rather than the six, laughter, tears, fights and, of course, Will telling Stella to back off because he’s too dangerous. It’s aggravating how easy it is to guess where this is all is heading. There are no surprises.
At the same time, there remains something charming and compelling about the two leads and their characters. While the personalities are the usual suspects in a sick-kid romance, the performances are captivating. Richardson captures Stella’s joyful, sorrowful and angry moments in a portrayal that often is gut-wrenching. Sprouse is more subtle with his character’s sarcastic comments, but you can’t help but love it when he gives Stella a smile.
“Five Feet Apart” is yet another film to add to the list of terminal teen love tear-jerkers. It offers nothing new, nor does it shift the paradigm. What you see, or what you think you’ll see, is exactly what you’ll get. As long as you’re OK with that, you won’t be able to stay away from “Five Feet Apart.”