“Five Feet Apart”
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Running Time: 116 mins
Directed by: Justin Baldoni
Starring: Haley Lu Richardson
Romance movies get a bad rap. Some of the greatest movies ever made can be classified in the romantic genre. Many of the greatest writers in human history were inspired to write stories about the uniquely human themes of romantic love. Despite this, many people hold a strong distaste for love stories in film.
“Five Feet Apart” and the long list of movies with the same rigid structure and exceedingly tired cliches are unquestionably the reason why.
This is incredibly disappointing, too. The idea of a romantic drama about a couple mutually suffering with some kind of horrible disease is a pretty fresh idea which deserves to be more thoroughly explored. More than that, the idea to have this disease be cystic fibrosis—sufferers of which are apparently not supposed to get within 6 feet of each other—is downright genius.
Rather than capitalizing on such an amazing premise and making a one-of-a-kind romantic film, the filmmakers decided to play it painfully safe—barely utilizing the one aspect which makes it unique aside from the hospital setting and all too brief moments of intelligent visuals. The scenes where the two lead characters force themselves to hold a pool cue between themselves so as to not catch the other’s bacteria culminates in a scene by a pool which stands as the highlight of the entire film.
Most of the movie, however, is packed to the brim with old cliches which have been the subject of satire for at least a decade by now. There is literally a gay best friend archetype here. The writers do actually try a bit harder to actually give this character his own backstory and traits, but in the grand scheme of things, he serves no other purpose than to offer romantic advice to the main character and to be a plot device later on.
There can still be entertaining movies with these plot points, but they have to either be aware they contain these aspects or make up for it by having interesting and well-written characters—preferably both. “Five Feet Apart” does neither of these things. The dialogue in this film is painfully bland. Its characters get close to saying something of substance based on the unfair life circumstances they are in and their desires to live like everyone else, but it rarely, if ever, does this intelligently and absolutely never does it believably.
The worst of this writing comes not from the dialogue, but in its poor understanding of the way hospitals work. One of the characters sneaks into an operating room to do something special for the girl he has a crush on who is having surgery the following day.
This is a cute moment, I guess, but this would not be possible at all in a real hospital. I could excuse this moment, but the freedom with which these characters come and go, doing things clearly damaging to their overall health, without being spotted or stopped by a nurse except for when the plot demands it is absolutely infuriating. A run-of-the-mill romantic plot just cannot work in this setting or with these characters.
Star Haley Lu Richardson manages to convincingly play a teenager who has suffered from cystic fibrosis her entire life, but even her best efforts cannot save the awful dialogue she has to say.
Unfortunately, none of the other actors in “Five Feet Apart” rise above the below-average script they are given. I do not blame them; I cannot imagine anyone performing as these characters and saying this dialogue in a believable manner.
This movie would not have made me anywhere as annoyed if it were not for the music in it, whether it be the incredibly bland score, which does not fit the tone at all, or the many indistinguishable indie rock songs which ruin any possible effective mood the film had worked to establish.
“Five Feet Apart” is a movie with an absolutely genius premise completely squandered by uncreative execution and overall blandness. I am sure anyone who was looking forward to seeing this movie will be satisfied. However, I have a feeling they will completely forget everything they saw within a week of watching.
Drew Eckhart is a sophomore history and pre-law major from Edmond, OK. He has loved movies for as long as he can remember but thinks his passion really began when he watched “The Dark Knight” for the first time in theaters. His favorite type of movie blends comedy and drama seamlessly, and he loves great action films. In Drew’s free time, he enjoys reading and playing video games, as well as watching TV and movies. His favorite TV show is “BoJack Horseman” and his favorite movie is “Whiplash.”