Five Feet Apart: Haley Lu Richardson’s delightful performance isn’t enough in this overwritten attempt at a tear-jerker

Everything you need to know about this movie you will get from watching the trailer. But, if you want to watch the full movie “Five Feet Apart” by director Justin Baldoni is the story of two kids with cystic fibrosis (CF). They are in the same hospital and fall in love but tragically can’t touch one another or go within 6 feet of one another. The movie starts out with an annoying little montage and voice-over by Stella (Haley Lu Richardson). They do the initial series of shots in a documentary style camera movement and extreme closeup as that is apparently how all teenagers interact with the world according to writers Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. Which is probably true, so I shouldn’t fault them but it annoyed me.

Once I got past my initial annoyance at the closeups of the scenes with Stella making her YouTube videos, I was able to enjoy the movie a bit. Stella has had CF her whole life and in dealing with it she has become a control freak. She regularly takes her medications and she organizes each hour of her life as she checks off her daily to-do list. Stella is cute, funny, and everyone likes her. Then she meets Will (Cole Sprouse) who is the typical tall dark and handsome type who doesn’t follow the rules.  We know this not just because she says it when she meets him, but because his life isn’t as organized as hers. As can be expected when you put a cute and bubbly girl with a tall and moody boy they fall in love. This is helped along with gay BFF Poe (Moises Arias) another young CF patient in the hospital.

The two teens cannot touch or come within 6 feet of one another because of the possibility of cross-infection. throughout the film, they constantly remind us of this because the characters in the movie say it constantly. If you want to make a drinking game out of this film, just take a drink every time someone says “6 feet.” But, rarely are these two characters that far apart. They touch common things and have a few close calls throughout the film. FYI the title of the film being 5 feet instead of 6 comes into play later on.

Personally, I know nothing about cystic fibrosis so I commend this film on making people like me more aware of it, and more aware of how people live with CF. However, I don’t feel like we get an accurate representation in this film because the makers of the movie spend two hours trying to make the audience cry. They want us to cry at Stella’s relationship with her family, her friends, the people in the hospital, and her relationship with Will. Every character in this film seems to have some situation in their lives that the filmmakers want us to cry about. And it is just too much. In the end, I left the theater feeling a little disappointed in this film, as the stars could have given us so much more if working with writers and a director willing to give them more than a by-the-book story of two star-crossed lovers who can’t be together.

  • Director:  Justin Baldoni
  • Written by:   Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
  • Starring:  Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, and Moises Arias
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Running Time:  1 hours and 56 minutes
  • Production Budget: $7,000,000 est.
  • Released Date: US – March 2019, UK April 2019

Review by Milo Denison, the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” available now.

Watch the Trailer