Five Feet Apart Review - Teen Romantic Drama Strikes All The Right Cords

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Five Feet Apart, from CBS Films and Lionsgate, presents a love story that begins in the most unlikely place and even as our lover’s wage war against a disease that devours them, the hopefulness of possibilities propels them forward.

Directed by Justin Baldoni, Five Feet Apart stars Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Parminder Nagra, Claire Forlani, and Gary Weeks.

The film begins with a Montage of pictures accompanied by voice over by Stella, played by Haley Lu Richardson. We see pictures of her as a child, an adolescent, her friends, Poe, played by Moises Arias, and finally we hear the story of the necessity of human touch and how she says, “we need that touch from the one we love almost as much as the air we breathe. I never understood that until I couldn’t have it.”

The next scene we’re in a hospital room as a group of Stella’s friends are heading on a Spring break trip to somewhere sunny and suddenly we realize as the camera pans the room, this is not an overnight, the hospital room is decorated with drawings and favorite pictures, posters, things that would boost the spirit when depression showed up and attempted to steal time from someone who is in short supply anyway.

Stella has CF, Cystic Fibrosis, and is on the waiting list for new lungs. She is fastidious when it comes to her regiment. Externally, it looks like she wants to live. She takes control of her med cart, runs a CF Youtube blog, explains the rate of infection of a sneeze and a cough which could kill her. She is type A personality and CF better watch it.

Walking through the hospital, it is a familiar place, as she has been in and out most of her life, she meets up with Poe, who also a CF’er, is just like her, hoping the stop watch won’t run out of time before the next medical breakthrough or clinical trial becomes available.

New to the terminal ward is Will, played by Cole Sprouse, who has a form of CF that is more severe, and a clinical trial has landed him here. He is skeptical, his family is wealthy, and they can’t buy him health. He is dying. And has essentially given into it.

As Stella passes his room, he is renting his bed out to his friends. She is in disease attack mode and his casualness is upsetting her regiment.

As opposites attract, even in the terminal war, soon Will and Stella are trying to keep the required distance away from each other while growing closer and more hopeful. Will becomes a believer in the treatment and Stella take a few risks as her heart begins to lead.

Of course, the path of true love never runs smoothly and for those terminally ill hoping for at least a fighting chance at a moment of happiness, even more so.

Five Feet Apart is an against all odds love story. The hope tugs at the heartstrings and one would have to be ice cold not to become invested in this story. I do have to say, I screened this film with a wider audience than usual, and the emotional response seemed to be genuine and all inclusive.

Our emotions, and to those who are dying, not in the abstract, but living each day in the reality that day could be now are pulled into this world and we experience an emotional response to the situations played out on screen.

The cast is excellent. Haley Lu Richardson is on a roll with several high-profile parts over the past year and while all have showcased her depth and range, this role, as Stella, is the one that stands out. She delivers a noteworthy performance.

Cole Sprouse, whom most know from Riverdale, really lights up the scenes. The two are appealing together even as the both suffer, he more brooding and delivers the angst-ridden artist effortlessly.

Our trio is complete by Moises Arias who brings to life Poe. Kimberly Hebert Gregory plays Nurse Barb.

Five Feet Apart is well written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis with strong defined characters and brought to life by talent who while bringing their unique stamp to the character present these people whose hearts are breaking under the stress of the premature death sentence they live with.

Five Feet Apart is a tearjerker. It is like a slow ride up, attempting to find the new normal in this Terminal Ward, and as they round that top curve, poised for a millisecond suspended in a place and time when the heaviness is gone, real laughter, even forgetting forgone conclusions for just one moment, and then whoosh! Unstoppable and out of control.

Five Feet Apart opens March 15, 2019. Be prepared for the emotional journey. See it.

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