In the genre of The Fault In Our Stars, Justin Baldoni directs this tearjerker romance between two very sick 17 year olds.
Set mostly in a large hospital, Stella (Haley Lu Richardson), and her gay friend Poe (Moises Arias) settle into a routine of intense treatment for cystic fibroses. New to their ward is Will (Cole Sprouse) a handsome teen with a mass of dark, curly hair. He’s there to try experimental drugs, but his attitude is not very hopeful.
Stella is smart and pretty and goes about her day with the precision of a drill sergeant. A medical cart is wheeled in daily, covered in small plastic containers of pills. She mixes handfuls of meds into chocolate pudding and matter-of-factly swallows them all. She knows that to stay alive until she receives a lung transplant, this is what she has to do.
Stella’s room has pictures all over the walls, a notebook to write down a to-do list, and a computer where she live streams her pod casts. She’s very organized and expects everyone around her to be the same. In fact, she introduces herself to Will, by yelling at him for not taking his treatment seriously.
I didn’t know much about cystic fibroses before seeing this film. It explains about the mucous that forms in the lungs and the risk of catching a bacteria from another person with the same disease. The title comes from a rule that they live by of staying at least six feet from another patient, however Stella explains to Will that she wants to have human contact so badly that she shaves off one foot, so they are only “five feet apart”.
The stars are very charismatic and their romance is quite sweet. I especially liked their first date, when Haley brings a pool cue with them to make sure they stay far enough apart to keep them safe as they stroll through the hospital hallways.
Even though it has a very contrived ending, I enjoyed the film and look forward to seeing Haley Lu Richardson again — she’s a breath of fresh air.