Keepin’ It Reel: Five Feet Apart

Cassidy McKnight, Staff Writer

Let me start by saying this: bring lots and lots of tissues. “Five Feet Apart” is one of the most exquisitely written romances about terminal illness, and you will cry your heart out from the moment you meet our star-crossed lovers. For someone like me, who doesn’t enjoy romance movies, this motion picture was quite the surprise, and I cannot wait to see it again. “Five Feet Apart” was so beautifully crafted and portrayed by its actors, who no doubt had a tremendous effect on the film’s audience turnout.

“Five Feet Apart” begins by introducing us to Stella, a YouTuber with cystic fibrosis. She explains through one of her many videos what cystic fibrosis, otherwise known as CF throughout the film, is and how it affects her daily life. Stella’s life in her hospital room is exactly what you’d expect from a terminally ill teenager: bleak. She lives on a strict medication and treatment schedule, and rarely does more than that. Stella’s entire life is based around a time schedule for everything and she is seldom “off track” from that. But when she meets another CF patient named Will, her entire life comes crashing down.

Will infuriates her with his nonchalant and risky behavior, and Stella aggravates him with her controlling and optimistic attitude. They agree that they will begin doing their treatments together, as long as Stella lets Will sketch a portrait of her. At first, Stella is against the idea of Will drawing a picture of her, but her inner need to control his schedule soon overshadows that hesitation and she agrees to the deal. The pair begin to do their treatments together via FaceTime, or sometimes six feet apart in an open room, every day. As days become weeks, their situation becomes less about their deal and more about the undeniable chemistry that they share. Will and Stella are faced with the idea that people with their illness are not allowed to experience happiness and they make a choice that will define their remaining lives permanently.

For those who are unaware of the terminal condition, CF is an illness where a person has an overload of mucus buildup in their lungs and digestive system, making it incredibly hard for them to breathe or gain any weight. To most, not gaining any weight sounds like a good thing, but in reality, patients with CF cannot gain weight because their bodies do not digest the nutrients properly. Because of this lack of nutrition, patients with CF have a weak immune system. As a result of their weakened immune system, patients with CF cannot be within six feet of each other, or else they could catch each other’s bacteria. This entire dilemma is what “Five Feet Apart” is about. Will and Stella are determined to take their lives back from their illness by stealing back just one foot of space in order to be with each other and truly experience all that life offers together.

“Five Feet Apart” had so many great dynamics that made it into a showstopper, that it’s hard to pick just one. However, I’ll have to say the choice of actors was one of the main aspects that turned this romance into such a gripping emotional film. Cole Sprouse, who played Will Newman, is one of the most popular young male actors of the year and well deserving of the title. He is best known from his roles as Cody, one of the twins in “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and as Jughead in the CW’s hit show “Riverdale.” This is the first major movie role Sprouse has taken as an actor and he did an absolutely amazing job with it. He truly portrayed the guilt and longing for normalcy that most terminally ill teenagers share in such a way that it felt like I was watching just Will, a CF patient wanting to love, and not some big Hollywood actor.

Taking into consideration the fantastic actors and emotionally gripping plotline, I would rate “Five Feet Apart” a 10/10, which is the first I’ve given out since I began reviewing. This movie was a masterpiece. I cannot wait to watch it again sometime soon.