Spoiler alert: Tissues are a must-have for 5 Feet Apart, but one box might not be enough.
Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) is just like most teens. She posts on YouTube, she hangs out with her friends, and she’s attached to her laptop and her phone. There is one thing significantly different about Grant. She has cystic fibrosis. This means she lives a life in and out of the hospital, faced every day with the challenge of staying alive. Then one day, she meets a guy who will change her life forever.
Grant is obsessed with control and order including her daily medical routine. After Grant takes all her medicines, organizes her room and medical cart she takes a walk through the hospital and meets a fellow cystic fibrosis patient she has not met before. He is around her age, good looking and immediately is interested in Grant. Will Newman (Cole Sprouse) appears as a charming, bad boy and he instantly starts a flirty relationship with Grant. She is resistant at first.
Although they are similar in age and both are afflicted with cystic fibrosis, their similarities stop there. Newman is Grant’s opposite, not serious about his medical routine and not as optimistic about his future. However, their relationship progresses and they form a bond that transcends their respective disease. Because they both have cystic fibrosis they must remain six feet apart from each other at all times or risk their lives. They are not allowed to hold hands, to hug, to even have the slightest touch.
One of the strong elements in the movie is watching their relationship evolve and grow. They help each other and and their differences become a positive influence to both of them. Grant gives Will the discipline to take his disease seriously and to begin to embrace the idea of survival. He was giving up on himself before meeting Grant. Newman helps Grant embrace life, have more fun and step outside her comfort zone. She was so focused on her disease she was missing out on life in general. What is amazing about watching their relationship grow is it all happens within the walls of a hospital. “I loved watching Grant fall in love with Newman because she was finally having fun and living her life,” junior Parmida Khajoee said.
Their connection continues to intensify, leading to an increased temptation to ignore the six-foot rule and connect through human touch. We watch them run around the hospital, spending time together and doing fun things like swimming in the hospital pool. Yet, always staying apart and following the rule as that rule gets harder and harder. Some humor is injected with Nurse Barb who does not want them to risk their health and warns them to stay away from each other. Yet Grant and Newman find ways to get past Nurse Barb and grow their relationship. “It was fun and exciting to feel like I was a part of Will and Stella’s journey as they found ways to get to know each other and have fun at five feet apart,” junior Lainey Morris said.
One night Nurse Barb catches them and tells them they must end their relationship. In an act of rebellion, and to take back one thing that her illness has taken from her, she decides to “take back” a foot. She believes if they are both very careful, they can stay a distance of five feet apart instead of five. They walk around with a five foot pool table stick at all times, making sure they keep that distance apart. Then tragedy strikes in the hospital.
One of the other teens with the same disease dies after an evening they all spend together. The movie gets more and more intense with a death, a heartbreaking scene, an attempt to save a life and a life changing event.
If you want to spend two hours getting to know these great characters and get an inside look into what it means to have this devastating disease and to embrace the power of love, go see this movie. You won’t be disappointed, though you may not leave without shedding a few, or many, tears.