‘Five Feet Apart’ review: This sweet romance will break your heart
If you hear your teen daughter sobbing uncontrollably this weekend, she very likely just saw “Five Feet Apart,” the new teen romance film about lovebirds with cystic fibrosis. It’s crack for high school kids.
The sweet film is a lot like “The Fault in Our Stars.” Both involve courtships marred by illness — it was cancer in “Fault” — and both have one main goal: Make people cry messy tears. In these irksome times where so many movies tend to be either high art or Marvel, a good cry feels invigorating. Please, shamelessly manipulate my emotions!
“Five Feet Apart” certainly does that. In the drama, two teen hospital patients — Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse) — are taking part in a clinical trial attempting to cure the disease that threatens to cut their lives short.
She is a vlogger who has chronicled her experience with cystic fibrosis online, and he is a moody amateur artist who is tired of fighting it. Opposites, they start off loathing each other, but loathing turns to flirting and flirting turns to dating and dating turns to “Say Anything”-style expressions of endless love. You know, high school.
But John Cusack had it easy. People with CF are supposed to stay several feet away from each other at all times to prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria, so hugs, kissing and hand-holding are all off the table. Watching them find sneaky ways to be together is the heart of this movie.
That said, there is nothing sophisticated or nuanced about “Five Feet Apart.” The script by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis has a teen sheen and pep that you won’t find in your average hospital. But the movie is smartly paced, and Sprouse (“Riverdale”) and Richardson make for one of the more adorable pairs in recent films. You not only want what’s best for them, but believe it can actually happen.
At the end, I suspect a few parents in the crowd will be sobbing, too.
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