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My granddaughter Aubrey spent the night with me Saturday. We enjoyed girl time coloring, watching Netflix and chatting. Sunday morning, when asked what she wanted to do before returning home, Aubrey suggested a movie at the theater.
I loved that idea! Aubrey and I share an appreciation for movies. We enjoy the entertainment aspect, however we also perceive the deeper messages within each film. I allowed my granddaughter to select the movie.
This 10 year old now prefers live action films over animation, a sure sign she is nearing her teens. And her matinee choice certainly demonstrated that. After scanning a couple of reviews, Aubrey chose the teen romance, Five Feet Apart.
Five Feet Apart Cast
This drama romance stars Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Claire Forlani, Emily Baldoni and Gary Weeks. Directed by Justin Baldoni, Five Feet Apart is based on the book by the same title, written by Mikki Daughtry, Rachel Lippincott and Tobias Iaconis. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for mature themes and mild language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.
Five Feet Apart Storyline
Stella (Richardson) enjoys being with her friends and creating videos to share on social media. She seems to be a typical teenage girl. However, Stella has cystic fibrosis, a genetic life threatening condition that makes breathing difficult and requires frequent stays in the hospital.
Stella’s best friend, Poe (Arias) also has CF. The two met in the hospital as children. They encourage each other through the daily routines, meds and procedures, and both are on the wait list for lung transplants.
Nurse Barb (Gregory) watches over her CF patients with the fierceness of a mother and the compassion of one who has cared for many sick children over the years.
Spending so much time in the hospital, it is perhaps inevitable that Stella creates deep friendships with other CF kids…and that she falls in love with a young man who shares her disease.
Will Meets Stella
Will (Sprouse) not only has cystic fibrosis, he carries a bacterial infection in his lungs that makes him ineligible for a lung transplant. During his hospital stay he undergoes experimental treatments in an attempt to clear the bacteria from his lungs. Charming and artistic, Will covers feelings of hopelessness and resignation with humor and nonchalance. He is intrigued by Stella, who long ago took charge of her own health routines and meds schedule. Will gets to know Stella by watching all of her online videos that detail what life with CF is like.
Stella, however, is initially unimpressed with Will. His lack of interest in improving his health baffles and then frustrates her. With Poe working as a mediator between them, Will and Stella gradually become friends. As Stella creates a strict health schedule for Will, and joins him via facetime chats for treatments, their friendship deepens into something more.
Five Feet Apart
Cystic fibrosis patients must observe very strict rules of engagement with each other. The infection in one patient’s lungs can make another CF patient very sick or even cause death. Precautions are necessary. The patients can be around family or healthy friends. However, when in the presence of another CF individual each person must wear gloves, a mask and remain six feet apart at all times.
Because of that rule, Stella and Poe have never hugged or touched each other during their long friendship. As Will and Stella develop feelings for each other they long to hold hands, embrace or share a kiss. Nurse Barb goes on alert when she realizes the teens have fallen in love. She vows not to lose a patient on her watch, and strongly discourages the relationship.
But the teens have experienced enough loss in their short lives. Will’s father left when his infant son was diagnosed with CF. His mother (Forlani) uses all the resources she has to help her son survive. And yet she is emotionally cool and distant, perhaps as a protective measure.
Stella’s mother (Baldoni) and father (Weeks) suffered the heartbreak of losing another daughter, not through cystic fibrosis but because of a tragic accident. That loss and Stella’s illness strains their marriage to the breaking point. They have recently divorced.
Grieving her sister still, and her parents’ breakup, Stella decides life has robbed her of enough. It’s time to take something back. She and Will shorten the distance between them to five feet…five feet apart as determined by a pool stick. Keeping their growing relationship hidden from their parents and Nurse Barb, Stella and Will share their thoughts and feelings about life, illness and death. And they discover that when life keeps you apart, you fight for every inch.
My Thoughts on Five Feet Apart
This is a sweet, tender movie that deals with very difficult subjects. I’m glad Aubrey selected this film and that we watched it together. Parts of it are heart wrenching as the characters deal with typical teenage angst plus the heaviness of a serious, life robbing disease.
Five Feet Apart is, over all, an uplifting and hopeful film, with occasional challenges added that create edginess and concern about the outcome. After watching the film, I read that cystic fibrosis patient Claire Wineland worked as a consultant on the film, coaching the young actors in their roles. Richardson, Sprouse and Arias give authentic and moving portrayals of CF patients, thanks to Claire. Sadly, she died in September 2018, suffering a stroke after a successful lung transplant.
While there are moments of hilarity and joy, this is a movie that tugs on the heart emotionally. Aubrey told me after the credits rolled that only two films have made her cry. One was A Dog’s Life. The second film is Five Feet Apart. A few years ago, I would have avoided a movie like this one. Allowing my heart to feel strong emotions and my eyes to fill with sympathetic tears was good for me.
Conversations Around the Movie
In the car I took the opportunity to discuss the film and its themes of life, death, illness, friendship and love with my granddaughter. Aubrey shared her thoughts openly and beautifully and asked questions about cystic fibrosis. We discussed the importance of living life to the fullest, now, and enjoying every moment. And we talked about big topics such as gratitude, anger, sacrifice and acceptance.
Movies are what one makes them to be. They offer entertainment, for sure. And for the open heart and mind, they offer so much more. Aubrey and I left the theater with fresh appreciation for life and love and hope.
Order the book that the move is based upon, by clicking on the photo below:
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