By Amani Salahudeen
“Five Feet Apart,” a romantic film based off a novel by Rachael Lippincott and directed by Justin Baldoni, hit theaters on March 15. It’s a coming-of-age story about two star-crossed lovers who are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes lung infections and prevents the patient from breathing properly, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Patients with the disease must stand six feet apart from others in order to prevent the spreading of bacteria.
This movie reminds me of the plot of “The Fault in Our Stars,” but it still manages to deliver its own original twist.
The film features patients Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will Neuman (Cole Sprouse) who fall in love despite having to stand for apart their own safety.
Although the movie has an 82 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, some viewers are unamused and think it promotes dangerous behavior. Elise Tellier, a 22-year-old student and blogger with cystic fibrosis argued, “It’s not so much a love story as it is romanticizing self-harm and suicide and toxic relationships,” according to Refinery29.
Despite the fact that the movie romanticizes the disease, it did demonstrate an accurate depiction of what it’s like to live with the disease and raises awareness for those who might want to learn more.
Although I saw the movie as a solid attempt to shine light on the severity of this disease, I understand why members of the cystic fibrosis community are offended. Although the love story between Stella and Will may trivialize the disease, Poe, who is Stella’s best friend in the hospital, has a backstory that adds some needed seriousness to the tone of the film. That being said, his character could have been given more screen time.
Stella is hopeful and seemingly enthusiastic about her future. She vlogs about her experience with cystic fibrosis on her YouTube channel and ends up making an impression on Will, who compliments her bubbly personality with his sarcasm and reserved attitude. Will is much less hopeful about his health, which is clear when he shares that he can’t wait until his 18th birthday so that he can stop what he views as his pointless treatment.
As their relationship blossoms, the two decide that the disease has taken enough from them, so what does it matter if they take one foot back — five feet instead of six? Throughout the movie, the two maintain a promise to stay five feet apart at all times.
“‘After all that CF has stolen from me, I don’t mind stealing something back — 304 millimeters, 12 inches, one foot,’” Stella explains in her video during the film.
Between the illness, the romance and the unshakable hope of these characters, it’s safe to say that if you decide to go see “Five Feet Apart,” be sure to bring a box of tissues.