So Close Yet So Far

The new movie 'Five Feet Apart' hits real emotions with a tragic love story involving two cystic fibrosis patients


courtesy of CBS Films

Valerie Davis, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Have you ever not been able to touch the person you love? Not because you are separated by distance or because you just don’t want to touch them, but because your health forbids you from going within six feet from them? Well, Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will Newman (Cole Sprouse) experience this heart-wrenching journey firsthand in the new blockbuster movie Five Feet Apart. 

Cystic fibrosis is a disease in which mucus clogs the airways in the lungs, ultimately making breathing extremely difficult. Furthermore, patients with cystic fibrosis cannot come within six feet of one another because they cannot “breathe in their air” — also known as sharing other people’s germs. If two patients were to break this rule, their already short-lived prognosis could become even shorter. So, even before seeing this movie, I knew this was going to be a heart-wrencher. Two teenagers love each other but cannot come within six feet of each other? This was obviously not going to end well.

The movie opens up with Stella’s voice as she talks about touching those who people love. Stella has cystic fibrosis, a disease she was diagnosed with as a young girl. She seems relatively optimistic about her diagnosis, as she posts videos on her YouTube channel about her medication and takes all of her pill-taking rituals quite seriously due to her severe OCD. While Stella is controlling and quite happy despite her terminally-ill diagnosis, Will is undergoing a clinical trial to try to cure the bacterial infection in his lungs. He refuses to take his medicine and views his sickness as a death trap just waiting to happen.

I’m going to be honest, at the beginning of the movie, I was not sure about how the pair would eventually end up falling in love. I mean, I knew they were going to do it somehow because it wouldn’t be a Hollywood teen-heartthrob movie without a hopeless love story, but I was confused. The two teens could not seem any more different. However, Justin Baldoni, the director of the film, develops their relationship beautifully.

Their differences actually bring the two teens together, and they start spending a lot of time together. But what is so different about this movie is that their relationship is suspenseful. Every time Stella and Will are together, you want them to embrace, or kiss, or at least be able to hold hands. But they can’t. In a moment of rebellion and longing, Stella decides to “take something back from cystic fibrosis” and stand only five feet apart from Will at all times. They break this rule with a five-foot-long pool that they use to “hold hands” through a mutually held object. This in and of itself is one of the reasons this story is so heartbreaking. This young couple cannot even touch each other — until they have to in order to save each other’s lives.

In my opinion, Five Feet Apart is the new The Fault In Our Stars, which is another sick-teenager-love story film that came out in 2014. I remember thinking there was no other movie that could make me sob as uncontrollably as I did when I was 14, but Five Feet Apart definitely changed that thought. It hits real emotions that you would not expect — it makes you think about how lucky you are to be able to touch the people you love without having to worry about dying because of it.

While this movie has received many mixed reviews, including a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.1/10 on IMDb, I would definitely recommend it to anyone ready to feel deep, real emotions. Five Feet Apart brings you into the life of young people fighting for their lives while falling in love — how could anyone resist seeing such a film?