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Five Feet Apart - Best Tear-Jerker.

Byline: Muhammad Ali Khan

When the trailer of the film 'Five Feet Apart' came out, I thought it was going to be another story about two people in love struggling with a disease, the same as we saw in 'The Fault in Our Stars'. Initially, I was not interested to watch one more film where in the end one or both die due to the illness. After the release, when viewers applauded the film, I became eager to watch it too.

Five Feet Apart basically discusses cystic fibrosis (CF) that produces a heavy mucus in the body which clogs the lungs and can be life-threatening. In the U.S. alone, 30,000 people are affected by it. Although many sufferers were happy to see that their disease was getting awareness through media, others thought that showing romance between the two leads wasn't necessary, keeping in mind the consequences this might have on the cystic fibrosis patient.

The film is based on the original script by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. First-time director Justin Baldoni came up with the idea of the film from his documentary series 'My Last Days,' based on young people dealing with illness. He met the YouTuber and cystic fibrosis activist Claire Wineland, who passed away in September 2018 during the making of the documentary and the film is a tribute to her. Justin even hired a cystic fibrosis nurse and a few patients to avoid missing details.

The story is about two teenagers Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will Newman (Cole Sprouse) who are struggling from cystic fibrosis in a hospital. For Stella, the hospital is her second home as she takes lengthy treatments and has a maternal head nurse Barb (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) and her best friend Poe (Moises Arias), another patient. She also has advanced obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and control issues and follows every rule of the hospital. She takes care of her medicines and is waiting for a lung transplant. She also maintains a website through which she informs everyone about her journey of dealing with cystic fibrosis.

Will Newman is exactly the opposite. He continuously breaks the rules and is not serious towards his treatment of CF. He is at more risk as he also has a condition called B. Cepacia which depletes his lungs function rapidly, making him ineligible for a lung transplant and a danger to other CF patients. He has even put a handmade sign on his door stating 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here'. His attitude worries Stella and she somehow makes him promise to take his treatment more seriously in exchange for letting him draw her. Their relationship soon blossoms.

The title of the film refers to the six-foot-rule CF patients are advised to maintain to avoid transmitting infections. 'Five Feet Apart' refers to the one step the couple takes to be with each other. In one of the scenes Stella says, 'After all CF has taken from me, I don't mind stealing one foot back.' And so they have a date within the walls of the hospital using a five-foot pool cue to measure their distance.

Poe suddenly dies making her grieve of another person close to her, just like her friend Abby and her sister. Will knows about her loss and he doesn't want her to see him dying as well. So he makes her close her eyes while he leaves. The doctors then follow through with Stella's lung transplant. The film is at its best when they are negotiating the difference between 'life is short' and 'it could be a lot shorter'. Their journey of love even in a situation like this is what keeps you glued to the screen.

Haley as Stella with messy hair and oversized sweaters very intensely depicts the grief she is having about losing her dear ones one after the other while Cole as Will with his tousled hair and impulsive attitude shines through the film. Due credit must be given to these actors for delivering fine performances as two lovers who were unable to live together or apart. The character of Poe played by Moises Arias was beyond words in his depiction of a cystic fibrosis patient. He has really put his heart and soul into the character. Another powerful character is that of Kimberly Herbert Gregory as the lady nurse Barb.

Five Feet Apart is definitely the film that has a future beyond its profit margins as it earns emotion through a story based on a real dilemma. Most of us are not even aware of the fact that finding a cure for CF has always been a matter of inches. In the 1950s, most kids with the condition were not able to survive after crossing the age of 10. These days, the life expectancy for such patients is 37, far better than in the 1950s. The song we hear at the end 'Don't give up on me' by Andy Grammer very aptly expresses the theme of the entire film in a short time. The film is indeed the best tear-jerker in a long time.
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Date:May 18, 2019
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