FIVE FEET APART
* * * ½ Joyce
* * * Don
(Teen romance under tough conditions)
Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse) are confined to a hospital with cystic fibrosis. What could have been a schmaltzy teen love story is written with a lot of emotion, but still centered on the reality of life-threatening disease.
The story educates viewers about the condition without being morose or morbid, through the eyes of three teenagers who must stay six feet from each other to avoid any life-threatening contact. Stella, in a small act of rebellion, settles for five feet, the length of a pool cue.
The movie takes place inside the confines of a hospital but is not confining in its story, as Stella and Will find ways to communicate after a rocky start in their relationship. Will is first seen as a very cynical, rebellious 17-year-old who slowly is influenced by the upbeat attitude of Stella, who is so well organized that she is able to take charge of her drug regimen and daily activity.
Joyce, with her background in nursing, found the daily hospital routine and symptoms of cystic fibrosis to be accurately portrayed. We both were impressed by the performances of Richardson and Sprouse and Moises Arias, who plays a young gay patient who has a perspective on his life beyond his years. I found the ending to be a bit too “Hollywood,” but Joyce wasn’t as cynical.
The Avon supplies a box of tissues for emotional movies, but at the Showcase the romantics in the audience need to bring their own tissues.
Rated PG-13, with some profanity.