Five Feet Apart is a raw and heart-wrenching film with inconsistencies.
This post for Five Feet Apart is spoiler-free.
Five Feet Apart (2019, directed by Justin Baldoni) takes on a formulaic young adult romance story that centres on two cystic fibrosis patients—Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse)—who fall in love with each other, even though they have to remain six feet apart (note: it’s five feet part in the title because the film’s protagonist wanted to take one foot away as a symbolism of taking a bit of her life back from the disease) at all times.
Five Feet Apart is reminiscent of 2014’s The Fault in Our Stars—based on John Green’s novel of the same name—a movie which turned Ansel Elgort into everyone’s teenage heartthrob. Though the concept is pretty much the same in both movies, Five Feet Apart focuses on cystic fibrosis, while the aforementioned focuses on cancer. But ultimately, apart from the scenes that educate audiences about such illnesses, both young adult films are essentially a conventional love story with its challenges.
Richardson deserves praise for her performance as Stella in Five Feet Apart. Her portrayal of a cystic fibrosis patient was raw, emotional, moving, and believable. It also helped that the actors lost weight to embody the physical look of the role. Sprouse, who plays Will, delivers some of the most cringiest lines in the movie, but his performance was at least better than the ridiculous crap he puts on for The CW’s Riverdale. And hey, he even sings a couple of lines in Five Feet Apart—and I’ll assure you that his singing voice isn’t as annoying as his talking voice. In the film, Stella also has a best friend called Poe (Moisés Arias); he basically has all the funny lines, and served as a comedic element that was much needed for the heart-wrenching film.
Baldoni’s direction of the film was sincere and well thought out. There is a sort of camera illusion which tricks audiences into thinking Stella and Will are standing really close together on-screen, but when the shot cuts to a wide shot, audiences can visualise the “six feet apart” rule. I really enjoyed the framing of the wide shots, whether it’s the two teenagers sitting by the swimming pool, or at the nursery room, or them walking in the snow; the wide shots are always well planned and aesthetically pleasing, it also added a symbolism that two people in love are so close, but yet so far.
Some notes that the movie could have taken to improve would be to cut out some scenes because they were completely time consuming and unnecessary for the main progression of the story. I think the film would have been perfect with a 90-minute duration, instead of being almost 120-minutes long. There were also certain inconsistencies in Five Feet Apart, which felt like such a big loophole (particularly at the end of the movie); when you watch it for yourself you will just think, “huh? how is this possible that so-and-so didn’t ___?” and “why did they make such a big deal of the six feet apart rule if they aren’t going to follow it properly?”.
Five Feet Apart would serve better for a streaming platform because it just feels like one of those rainy day movies that anyone would enjoy.