Five Feet Apart

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The much anticipated film Five Feet Apart is an ideal Friday night for lovers of romantic comedies, forbidden love and bittersweet fairytales. Bring lots of tissues and Milk Duds.

Five Feet Apart is a story about two starcrossed teens named Will, played by Cole Sprouse, and Stella, played by Haley Lu Richardson, who have a bacterial disease called Cystic fibrosis (CF). In addition to not being able to breathe well and habitually coughing up mucus, people who have this disease cannot come within six feet of each other because of a bacteria they carry that can be fatal to another CF patient. The film is called Five Feet Apart because the teens dare to ignore the rule, and come within five feet of each other, a symbol of rebellion against the disease that controls their lives.

The actors who play the main teens were incredible, unflinching authentic actors. Haley Lu Richardson is one of the great teen actresses of the 21st century; her bubbly and dorky, yet flawed, persona compels us to fall in love with her within the first ten minutes of the film. Hayley falls directly into the body of her character, and the unflinchingly real and passionate way she plays Stella causes viewers to feel just as she feels. That is what makes her an exceptional actress. Cole Sprouse plays an alltoo likable brooding rebel whose artistic, mysterious character is crafted for us to adore.

Moisés Arias plays the third sick teenager, Poe. And while his character is the cliched ‘gay best friend,’ he also represents bigger ideas. Poe symbolizes the unfair aspects in being affected by CF, because as one gets to know him throughout the movie, a watcher cannot help but desire an amazing, fulfilling future for him. Poe discusses his future several times, and it’s painful to even imagine the disease ending his life before he gets the chance to truly live. Moisés may have played the most lovable character of them all, as his happy-go-lucky, sassy, weird personality would bring a smile to any bad day.

The director is Justin Baldoni. Originally an actor, this is his directorial debut. Baldoni successfully explores deeper ideas of love, loss, growing up and living life to its fullest in his crafting and construction of this film.

While falling in love with the movie’s wonderfully flawed characters, we also see them struggle with these ideas, each of the three teens understanding a different one and at the same time trying to conquer another. The makes viewers reflect on their lives even after the curtains close. It was almost as if I could hear Cole Sprouse’s voice in my ear, “It’s just life, it’ll be over before you know it.” The film asks a simple, yet difficult question: Am I truly living my life, or am I just going through the motions?

The screenplay was adapted by writers Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. Although the script deals well with the broader concepts that are buried within the narrative, there are some issues with the fundamental buildup of the story. Several scenes seemed forced or unnatural; which is perhaps in consequence of the way the scenes are organized, with there being no way for the audience to gauge how much time has passed. In certain moments it was indiscernible whether the scene was taking place minutes or hours after the previous scene, which could get confusing and difficult to keep up with.

However if one chose to throw themselves into Will and Stella’s world and just believe in the story, reasonableness be damned, it could sweep one away. Five Feet Apart has a sort of fairy tale quality, possibly because of the unconventional way the scenes flowed, where the overall image of the film could feel disconnected and implausible. The movie runs like a fairy tale because it could seem fake, but in a strange way that feels magical and otherworldly. The world that was crafted felt mystical and definitely made up for the lack of flow and believable reality in the film.

When the film ends and the endings credits start, the realization that one is inside the real world and not the world of Five Feet Apart is a hard one to grasp. Although the film has its flaws, the world and story Justin Baldoni built wrapped itself around viewers hearts, so that for those hundred and thirty five minutes, we were no longer in a dark theatre but in a hospital filled with every promise and impossibility.

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