Film review by Cath Clarke
A mushy-slushy romance about a pair of terminally ill teenagers who meet on a cystic fibrosis ward would ordinarily leave me in a puddle on the floor. (I speak as someone who once choked up watching a washing powder advert.) But ‘Five Feet Apart’, with its phoney emotions and baloney contrivances – these love-struck kids can’t even hold hands let alone get to first base because two people with cystic fibrosis aren’t allowed to touch – just didn’t do the job for me.
Haley Lu Richardson almost gives you a reason to watch as Stella, who has cystic fibrosis and is super-positive about her chances of getting a lung transplant (itself not miracle cure – new lungs will only extend her life by five years). She fills her days in hospital writing life-affirming to-do lists and doing yoga. Down the hall, brooding bad boy Will (a charmless performance by Cole Sprouse) has stopped taking his meds. He agrees to start again only if Stella lets him draw her. Credit to the filmmakers for the unsqueamish illness details here, down to the stomach feeding tubes and bowls of spittle. Yet the script is weirdly coy about sex – Stella and Will risk passing infections with physical contact. But surely teenagers with smartphones can work out a way to bypass the no-touching rule? In the end ‘Five Feet Apart’ jerked not a single tear from me.