Five Feet Apart: Film Review

I think Haley Lu Richardson is fantastic in everything she does so I’m really happy she is getting lead roles in more mainstream movies. I have been championing her since The Edge of Seventeen and hopefully with Five Feet Apart more people will appreciate her talent. Needless to say, her performance was moving and simply fantastic here too.

She stars as Stella, who suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF) and is currently in hospital. While there, she meets fellow sufferer Will (Cole Sprouse) and they fall in love, despite having to keep six feet apart to prevent cross-infection. Naturally, they start to test those boundaries, starting with reducing that guideline distance down to five feet.

I have never seen a film starring a character with CF. Despite having a sufferer in my class at university, I didn’t really know much about it so the film is really insightful and interesting. I literally had no idea that two CFs couldn’t hang out closely!! I also didn’t know how it was treated or what Will’s condition – B cepacia – was. This really proves how important representation is in raising awareness about different people’s experiences.

I’ve already gushed about Richardson up top but I’ll go into some more detail. I just connect to her somehow – if she smiles big, I can’t help but smile and if she’s sad, I am moved. She has a captivating, likeable onscreen presence and her performance always feels so natural and realistic. Sprouse is my favourite thing about Riverdale so it was cool to see him co-leading a movie and he brings that same outsider charm to this. But there’s a third important player in this movie – Stella’s gay best friend Poe (Moises Arias, aka Rico from Hannah Montana) – he is funny and I loved him so much. Their characters are well-written and fully realised and they were still allowed to be fun teenagers, despite their illness. Major shout-out is also needed for Nurse Barbara (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), who is so lovely.

This was heading into 5/5 territory until the last 20-30 minutes of the movie. You think you know where a film like this is going to end up but it turns out you don’t with this one. One major thing shocked me and brought me to tears because I didn’t see it coming but then there’s a lot of movie left after that and it doesn’t quite match up – it had peaked too soon and after that, it got a bit ridiculous and like it was trying too hard to be dramatic, sentimental, romantic and sad. I would have liked something a bit more grounded because everything had felt realistic up until that point. It also needed to be slightly shorter – the end was heartbreaking and I should have been crying some more but I was over it by then.

I usually compare films like this to The Fault in Our Stars because it’s two sick kids falling in love but this is substantially different. It is about CF and not cancer – something which is portrayed a lot onscreen – it is set in a hospital and it takes unexpected turns. The performances from all three are impressive and it is worthy of standing on its own. You might want to bring tissues!

In selected cinemas from Friday 22nd March

(Rating: 4/5)

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  1. […] of the show. I was a Hannah Montana fan growing up and loved his recent heartwarming performance in Five Feet Apart so it was particularly disconcerting to watch him play this menacing leader. He was scary because […]

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