Monday, July 8, 2019

Movie Review: "Five Feet Apart" (2019)

Director: Justin Baldoni
Year: 2019
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Two teens with cystic fibrosis embark upon a relationship that seems impossible because of their illness.

Haley Lu Richardson's character Stella, who has cystic fibrosis, records a YouTube video from her hospital room in the 2019 movie Five Feet Apart
"It's just life. It'll be over before you know it." (Image Source)
Oh yay, another entry in the "young adults with terminal illnesses who fall in love" genre! Will this one be better than the last? "Five Feet Apart" marks the feature film directorial debut for actor Justin Baldoni, who has mostly directed made-for-TV documentaries and documentary shorts. The screenplay is written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. It tells the story of two kids in their late teens who both have cystic fibrosis. Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) is an organized young woman who follows her treatment regimen down to the letter. Will (Cole Sprouse) is more of a wild child who despite being afforded the opportunity of an experimental new drug program doesn't keep up with his routine. These two individuals are thrust together because they both live at a hospital and must be monitored closely at all times. They have very little in common outside of their illness, which doesn't allow them to come within six feet of each other because those with cystic fibrosis can be infected by each other's bacteria. Despite this, the two embark upon what seems like an impossible relationship that may defy all odds.
Movie still for the romantic drama Five Feet Apart where actor Moises Arias skateboards inside a hospital as he pulls his osygen tank
"Nothing's going to save us. We're breathing borrowed air. Enjoy it." (Image Source)
What is it about teenagers who have long-term illnesses that make them such appealing protagonists for Hollywood romances? We figure the only explanation is it's the easiest way to create a "Romeo and Juliet" star-crossed lovers situation for the modern age where things like class, race, family feuds, and other circumstances have become smaller obstacles with each passing year. Giving characters a terminal illness is an easy way to add hefty stakes to a romance that will have to be overcome no matter the odds *~all in the name of love.~* "Five Feet Apart" is a formulaic romantic drama that hits all the same notes as 92.785% of the other romances that came before it. It is full of medical jargon, lots of schmaltzy dialogue, a few life-threatening situations, and tons of seemingly absent parents (until it's absolutely necessary that they be on screen, of course). As to be expected with a film like this, it follows the conventional path where girl meets boy, they don't get along at first, they find a connection, they fall in love, and eventually, have a falling out before a loving reunification. The only question remaining in this terminal illness genre entry is whether one of the main characters will die in the end for one final tug at the ol' heartstrings. Honestly, we lost the ability to have our heartstrings tugged years ago, so we're generally heartless bastards when it comes to grand romantic gesture moments in middling flicks like this. They died along with Gus in "The Fault in Our Stars."
Will (Cole Sprouse) and Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) sit near each other with their feet in a pool as they talk about love and cystic fibrosis in the movie Five Feet Apart
"Isn't that how we're going to die? Drowning but with no water?" (Image Source)
It may be (painfully) obvious by now that films like "Five Feet Apart" aren't really our cup of tea, but we're always willing to keep an open mind. Whether movies like this are tolerable or not comes down to the lead actors, their ability to get us invested in their characters and their plight, and their chemistry with one another. Luckily, Haley Lu Richardson is an extremely talented actress who can deliver a very nuanced performance even with the cheesiest of cheesy scripts. That being said, Cole Sprouse still leaves a lot to be desired from the male lead role. While he's not as grating or as terrible as other male protagonists have been in the recent past (*cough*Patrick Schwarzenegger*cough*), he still sort of just smirks and pouts and shrugs his way through his role with minimal efforts and maximum flirtation. Be that as it may, there are a few surprisingly tender moments between them here and there, so all is not a total wash, but more often than not, this is a mostly mundane romantic drama that's slightly elevated by Richardson's performance alone.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
RT Rating: 55%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

No comments:

Post a Comment