‘Five Feet Apart’ explores struggles of cystic fibrosis

Film brings light to undiscussed disease


Fair use from CBS Films

Ben Sanford

Walking into the theater to watch “Five Feet Apart,” I expected it to be reminiscent of other teen romance movies of this generation. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a realistic and vulnerable film about a disease I did not know much about, cystic fibrosis.

“Five Feet Apart” follows a teenage girl, Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson), who struggles with her cystic fibrosis (CF), the death of loved ones and her love life. Because Stella and her mysterious love interest, Will Newman (Cole Sprouse), both have CF, they are told by doctors to stay six feet apart at all times so they do not exchange dangerous bacteria. However, in an act of rebellion, to take control of their lives, Stella and Will decide to only stay five feet apart.

Although this decision at first seems extremely irresponsible, Richardson does a fantastic job of guiding the viewer to understand Stella’s perspective on life. She explains why she feels she should take this dangerous chance. Sprouse compliments Richardson on the screen but doesn’t ever seem to elevate the material he’s given the way Richardson does.

“Five Feet Apart” tries to be a comedy, drama and teen romance movie all at once. While the movie does successfully portray parts of those genres throughout the movie, the film thrives in its quieter moments.

Richardson carries the film from beginning to end, displaying severe happiness and sadness effortlessly. Kimberly Gregory plays Stella’s nurse, Barb, and does an amazing job of portraying the battle she has between her duties of being Stella’s nurse, while also trying to be a mother figure to her. Despite his small role in the film, Moises Arias does a stellar job of portraying a strong support system for Stella, in his role of Poe, Stella’s best friend.

Throughout the movie, Stella and Will often make decisions that aren’t the smartest. For the most part, the script and acting do a great job of justifying their actions. However, toward the end of the film, Stella makes some life-altering choices that seemed far too unbelievable.

“Five Feet Apart” is successful at educating the dangers and complexities of cystic fibrosis, while also making sure the movie is still enjoyable as a whole.

“Five Feet Apart:”★★★★☆