A new romantic drama made for tweens will have adults on the verge of tears.
“Five Feet Apart” is a new film directed by Justin Baldoni and starring Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse. The story revolves around two high school aged characters who have a rare disease called cystic fibrosis which doesn’t allow them to get within six feet of each other for fear of catching the other’s infection. The two leads fall in love while recovering in a hospital and their struggle for a sense of normalcy ensues.
Simply put, this film is adorable. Although you may find yourself in a dark, crowded theater with middle- and high-school-aged kids who think it is appropriate to talk throughout the entire 116-minute run time, this film’s biggest strength is its ability to move you to tears. The relationship between Richardson and Cole is palpable, and the film’s ending will subvert your expectations and have you in a sprawling heap on the floor.
Sprouse has had an acting renaissance lately. Originally a child star on shows like “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” with his role in in the CW’s “Riverdale,” and now “Five Feet Apart,” the actor is establishing himself as a Hollywood mainstay. His bad boy attitude captures the hearts of the viewers and then Richardson’s character quickly and authentically. Seeing their relationship develop without being able to be within six feet of each other is captivating and heartbreaking at the same time.
Where the movie suffers a bit is in the side characters. All of them are likeable, but it feels as though they are there only to serve the main characters and get them to continue seeing each other. So, when the film does certain things with them throughout the film which are designed to hit you emotionally, they feel dry and inconsequential.
Another strong aspect of “Five Feet Apart” is the soundtrack. While fairly formulaic and predictable, it has just the right amount of piano/synth driven score and pop songs to satisfy the viewer’s need for some quality teen drama. It never overstays its welcome and elevates certain scenes where the music acts as a lead character.
One more area which could have been improved is the decision making from Richardson’s character. In the movie, she is portrayed as smart, funny and on top of her disease, but the decisions she makes in the final act of the film are confusing and unjustifiable. The film spoiled its narrative for about 10 minutes, but thankfully redeems itself in its final scene.
“Five Feet Apart” is a movie with a spoil budget ($7 million) I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but ultimately is one of my favorites of the year. It is tear-inducing, but spreads a smile over your face throughout the entirety of the film. It soars above the stereotypical “will they, won’t they” teen drama.
My final rating for “Five Feet Apart” is a strong 9/10.