‘Five Feet Apart’ Offers Perfect Love Story for Life under Quarantine

Juliet Burbank, Staff Writer

Imagine being in love with someone, knowing that you are not allowed to be closer than six feet from one another. It is hard to deal with everyday temptations such as those that Stella and Will have to face in the film Five Feet Apart (2019)

Directed by Justin Baldoni, Five Feet Apart is about a teenage girl Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) who resides in a hospital because she has cystic fibrosis, and cannot risk being exposed to the outside world. She enjoys having her life under control, whether it’s organizing her medications, or doing her treatment routines perfectly. She soon meets another teenage boy with cystic fibrosis named Will (Cole Sprouse), who also lives in the hospital. Will, however, has the complete opposite mindset. There is another boy with CF named Poe (Moises Arias), who becomes Stella’s best friend.

Throughout the film, Stella tries hard to change Will’s mind and habits so that he will live a longer and healthier life, all while maintaining six feet of separation so they do not contract each other’s germs. As Stella helps Will progress, they soon fall in love and decide to only stay five feet away, to take back something that cystic fibrosis has taken from them.

Just when all is well, a tragedy occurs with Poe, creating a major setback for all the characters. This film demonstrates the hardships of living with a life-threatening disorder, bringing awareness to such a hard topic, and still adding a plot that provides friendship, love, and control. I recommend people watch this film for more awareness of cystic fibrosis and for a heartfelt love story between friends, patients, doctors, and two incredible teenagers.

Although this may look like a glorification of such a tragic topic, this film is both practical and positive when it comes to talking about cystic fibrosis. From the very beginning of this film, it shows what patients with CF have to go through everyday. Stella takes a lot of her medications, logs everything she does, has a nurse come in and check on her, and more. All of the patients with CF in this movie walk around with a device to help them breathe. There is also a scene where Stella has a device on her to help her get all of her mucus out, and you could tell how uncomfortable it is.

This may be a romantic movie, but it is not all hearts and roses. Not only does it demonstrate the physical pain of having this disorder, it demonstrates the emotional and mental pain of not being able to be close to someone else who has it when you really want to be. Some may also say that this film is too sappy or cheesy, but I think it’s just the right amount of emotion and drama. Stella and Will do not get to experience normal things, especially normal relationships, so even though they are older, they have to learn how to flirt and talk like other people who were learning how to do that at a much younger age. If it seems cheesy, you might want to think about the fact that this is the first time they are doing things like this, so it is not going to be perfect for them. The emotion in this movie is what drives and pulls the audience more and more into this film, and I think it is just right.

The undeniable growth that we can see developing between Stella and Will throughout the movie and the constant plot twists and tragic scenes make this a romance/drama that you won’t want to miss. The two main characters who are in love can’t even be near each other, which keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. This film shows the progression of feelings and love that two teenagers start to have for each other. On top of that, deaths and plot twists make for some strong tugs at your heartstrings.

This film reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars in some ways because it is about two teens who are recovering from and battling a serious illness, so they both understand what each one is going through. Their love was also a progression like it was with Stella and Will; the protagonists in both films start out butting heads and not getting along. The constant policies and rules that have to be followed by Stella, Will, and all the other patients are restricting and unwanted, which is why a lot of these teens finally decide to do things their own way.

The six-foot policy is eventually broken by these teens when they decided to have a birthday party in the hospital for one of the patients. Stella and Will also decide to take a foot away from this policy to represent all that this disorder has taken away from them, hence the title. Although this may seem irresponsible to some, they never got close enough to each other to really be in harm’s way. The six-foot rule is not a promised way for these patients to stay safe. Rather, it is a healthy precaution that should be followed.

Right now, staying six feet apart is a rule we can all relate to, due to this Coronavirus pandemic. The feelings we all have right now to not being able to be next to our loved ones and our friends is exactly how these teenagers feel everyday.

Not only was I able to get a grasp of each character’s personality early in the film, but the performance by these actors allowed me to see how this disorder was affecting their lives differently, and they really did show how hard it is to live this kind of life.

From the very beginning of the film, I could see how Stella was organized, always in control, and creative. She has artwork all over her walls in the hospital, and there is a scene in the film where she is logging down all the medicine she took and at what time.

I could also see that Will was laid back and negative. He leaves his room so that his friends could have a private place to make out, and he often laughs at Stella for trying so hard all the time. Through the performances given by Richardson and Sprouse, I really understood how this disorder changes the lives of CF patients, and how they have to go through so much.

I was often brought to tears by this kind of acting. For example, you could see the pain in Stella’s eyes and you could see the way her body acted differently when talking about how important it is for her to stay healthy, for her family’s sake. When Poe loses his battle with CF, the body language and reaction that all the nurses and Stella show, help to make the audience realize how important he was to them. This film would not have been so powerful and moving if it weren’t for outstanding acting.

This film incorporated several plot twists, tragedies, and a lot of information about cystic fibrosis, all of which was supported by a strong script and some clever use of music throughout the scenes. Many scenes used uplifting songs when focusing on the impact of cystic fibrosis, which demonstrates the positive outlook that these characters have. When scenes were sad, like the final scene where Will has to walk away from Stella and where they are unable to talk to each other, sad music plays in the background. The music in the background really got people teary-eyed and upset for this poor couple.

Before filming this movie, the director and characters sat down and interviewed actual people who have CF, and their experiences were then incorporated into the script. This is important because it helps shape the real life of these teenagers and what someone with CF would actually say. This made the film more believable and so much more powerful.

This film demonstrates the hardships of living with a life-threatening disorder, bringing awareness to such a hard topic, and still adding a plot that provides friendship, love, and control.

I recommend people watch this film for more awareness of cystic fibrosis and for a heartfelt love story between friends, patients, doctors, and two teenagers. I had an enjoyable time while watching this movie. I was so into this film that I was genuinely confused on how the two hours went by so fast. I learned so many lessons while watching this movie, and I hope others will too.

This movie is available on Hulu, Youtube, Amazon Movies, and more.

I think this would be a good film to watch while in quarantine, because it is informational. Plus, in a way, we can all relate to the six-foot rule.

Mariah Mauke