Five Feet Apart disappoints with unoriginal script

Maia Schwallie, staff reporter

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Five Feet Apart is an underwhelming melodrama cluttered with overused Hollywood tropes. These unsettling flaws first became apparent to me when I saw the film’s trailer. Normally these imperfections would have served as a warning to steer clear of this movie. However, as a 15-year-old girl with a slight crush on the film’s leading man, Cole Sprouse, I dismissed my sense of reason and decided to see the film anyway. Unfortunately, I deeply regret that decision.

Five Feet Apart follows Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson), a teenage girl with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disease where thick and sticky mucus can clog the lungs and obstruct the pancreas. Stella spends her life inside a hospital where she meets her future love interest and fellow cystic fibrosis sufferer, Will Newman (Cole Sprouse). Due to a medical practice called the “six-foot rule”, Will and Stella must stay at least six feet apart from each other at all times or else they could catch each other’s viruses. Naturally, this becomes a problem as the two leads start to fall in love.

Once the film introduced Will and Stella, I quickly realized what kind of movie I was in for. Stella immediately assumed the role of a Type A control freak and Will represented the rebellious boy she tries to fix. I have seen this set up a million times, however I was willing to look past it since Sprouse and Richardson had chemistry  despite their cliche lines: perhaps the film’s sole asset. I cringed when I heard Sprouse retort, “It’s just life, it’ll be over before you know it.” While their acting was admirable, it proved unable to transcend the predictability and unoriginality of these characters.

In addition, the film didn’t create interesting side characters. Unfortunately, the writers continued their trend of writing walking stereotypes, this time taking the names of Poe, The Gay Best Friend, and Nurse Barb, The Sassy Black Woman. These characters were disappointing to begin with and were even harder to watch as the movie progressed. They had no storylines of their own and only served to provide occasional comic relief. In 2019, I expect more from writers than the lazy tropes they presented thus far.

Moreover, this movie failed to impress their target demographic— teen girls like me. I should note that it doesn’t take much for a movie to make me cry (I brought a box of tissues to the theater when I saw The Fault in Our Stars), but the predictability of this movie combined with the numerous cheesy lines kept me from feeling a true connection to these characters.

Five Feet Apart is no more than a sad knock-off of similar works, such as The Fault In Our Stars, The Red Band Society, or Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl. While the main characters were likable and their chemistry was usually pretty strong, the film was fraught with old cliches, underwhelming side characters and unnatural dialogue that fell short in extracting any emotion from its viewers. So, unless you have an unusual affinity for trite, run of the mill teen dramas, Five Feet Apart is a film I would recommend skipping.

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