'Five-Feet-Apart' Movie Review

Couldn't be any closer...

Introduction

A love story. That was not how the story was supposed to start as but it ended in sacrifice; a connotation of love. Stella, a 17 year old suffering with cystic fibrosis unexpectedly meets Will, a patient with the same condition. Frustrated at his viewings of life, Stella intervenes to add control to his mannerisms and to give herself peace of mind. Time intertwines the two together as they discover a love that even distance can't hold them apart from.

Key themes

Stella's friends visit Stella at the hospital. The friends talk about what to wear to a pool party and the potentials of exploring the 'sex world'

Stella vlogs, takes care of herself and has a checkup. Whilst visiting her fellow patient friend Poe, she finds out he is asleep and sees Will with his friends.

Will follows Stella to her favourite spot - the Neonatal Intensive Care unit, and introduces himself. The two have a hit at one another. Stella is the least interested in getting to know Will. The two are interrupted by Nurse Barbara who informs the two that they are supposed to be 6 feet apart at all times. Barbara warns Stella that any infection she could catch from Will could ruin her chances of getting new lungs

Will searches up Stella and discovers her YouTube channel, he appears to watch it into the night

Stella spots Will on the roof and goes up to talk to him. She tells Will to take life seriously and 'unintentionally' locks him on the roof

Stella trying to move on from the frustrating conversation with Will, gives up and goes to Will's room. She tells him about her 'control issues' and intervenes - she decides to help Will take his regime seriously. He agrees, as long as he is able to draw her

Will finds a skateboard and bumps into Poe. Will asks whether Poe and Stella have hooked up. Poe informs Will that he is gay and 'not into white guys'. Will signs in relief

Stella calls Will to check whether he's doing his regime, but finds out he isn't. She decides that the two will do their treatments together so that she knows he is keeping up with his regime.

Whilst at the gym together, Will insists that he get to draw Stella, after some reluctance, she allows. Whilst drawing, the two discuss aspirations and 'lists'

Will slips cartoon drawings under Stella's door. Stella and Will get talking about art until Abby, Stella's older sister is mentioned. Stella ends the call. Will does some research and finds out that Abby is dead

Will confronts Stella about Abby, which leads to a delicate conversation where Stella admits that she cant 'die'. Will says that she has 'survivor's guilt'. Stella storms out

Will draws an apology cartoon. Stella forgives Will but misses a treatment appointment with him as she has to have a surgery for an infected G-tube. Will wants to know more but Stella shuts him out reminding him to stick to the rest of the regime for the day

Will visits Stella as she is resting before surgery. He sings the same song that Abby used to always sing to Stella after a surgery

Whilst escaping out of the room, Barbara catches Will and informs him how a former two patients of hers died because she let them 'break the rules for love'. She tells Will that she is not going to let that happen again

After surgery, Stella wakes up in her room to find a gift from Will - a box of paper flowers. At that time, Will was doing research into his treatment and discovered fatal results of the treatment. In sadness, anger and confusion, Will draws and ignores Stella's thank you call. Stella leaves a voicemail explaining her feelings for Will, under the influence of anaesthesia

Stella dresses up to meet Will in the atrium. instead she meets Poe who tells her that Will isn't coming. Stella goes to Will's room where he rejects her. Poe tells Stella to leave him, but in frustration, Stella tells Poe that he has a bad love life therefore has no right to tell her what to do

Poe sends a pot of figs to Stella, telling her that she is right. The two make up as Poe admits that anyone who loves him has to pay for his care and that he doesn't want that for anyone he loves

In the moment, Stella gets an idea. She sends a picture with the message 'five feet at all times' to Will, then he gets a notification that Stella has uploaded a video. Stella explains in her video how she is tired of cystic fibrosis taking over her life and how despite it being six feet distance between CF patients, she is daring to take one feet back (making it five feet)

Stella meets Will with a snooker pole (ranging about 5 feet in length) and asks if 'he's in' to being together,but always five feet apart. He agrees

Stella and Will meet up for their first date. they hang out in the hospital swimming pool. Stella reveal her semi-naked body to show her scars. Will follows suit. They jump in the pool

It's Will's birthday. Stella surprises him with many balloons with notes inside. The notes leads him to the cafeteria where Stella has planned a surprise party with all the people Will loves surrounding him

After being confined to their rooms and Barbara applying to transfer Will, nurse Julie answers a call from Poe. She finds him lying on the floor and after all attempts, Poe dies

In reaction to his death, Stella decides to "live a little". She asks Will to walk with her in the cold, snowy night. The two make snow angels and share stories with the aim to see "the lights". On the way there, Stella skates on frozen water, Will tried to warn her but ends up joining her

The hospital gets news that Stella has a lung donor. Barbara goes to Stella's room to get her prepped, but discovers that Stella is gone and has left her room in a mess

Whilst skating, Stella sees the texts from Barbara about the lung transplant and chooses to ignore it

Will gets a text from his mother informing him that Stella has a lung donor. Will encourage Stella to go to the hospital, but she is reluctant, adamant to see the lights. Stella, in a rush, falls back unto the ice and falls in. Will drags Stella out of the water and gives her mouth to mouth, causing him to pass out also

The two are found and rushed to the hospital. Stella refuses to take the lung transplant, but Will tells her to. The surgery goes successfully, whilst Will finds out that his drug trial isn't working

Will plans a surprise for Stella for when she wakes up after surgery, with the help of parents and nurses. He plans for Stella to see the lights, whilst telling her he has to go as his treatment is not working. Will leaves leaving a gift of his drawings behind

Stella ends the film talking about the importance of touch.

Observation/thoughts

  • Stella appears to be friendly with a lot of the staff at the hospital. Shows how often Stella visits the hospital
  • Are patients allowed cameras in hospitals? Maybe this is allowed based on her (Stella) relationship with the nurses
  • Are patients with terminal conditions allowed to just get up and leave their room?
  • How was Will able to get access to the hospital roof? This was Will's first time at the hospital, how did he know where the roof was? (He clearly had to search for it, how did he go about that unnoticed, where was his mother?) How was he able to get their without being caught, especially as he is supposed to be monitored closely since he is on a drug trial
  • How did Stella know what room Will was in, when she only just met him? (she did see will in his room earlier, but that suggests that she memorised what room Stella was in, that didn't seem to catch Will by surprise which is strange)
  • Is skateboarding allowed in a hospital?
  • Appears that the cystic fibrosis patients live at the hospital. Poe was at the hospital because he had bronchitis, but he didn't appear to be checked on because he was always allowed out of his room (even to skateboard). When Poe chocked on his drink, he was told to 'be careful next time', they should have checked his lungs and breathing, but they just left him instead, maybe that is what lead to his death (no check-ups)
  • Stella fell back harshly on her hospital bed, surely she should be unable to do that - won't it hurt her lungs? Wont it knock all the air out of her lungs?
  • How did Will know what room Stella was in before her surgery? How did he get inside? How did he go unnoticed? Where did he get the protective clothing from?
  • How did Stella know what Barbara said to Will about not allowing them to see each other?
  • The hospital seems very empty/non-busy all the time - that is very strange for a hospital. What about rooming spaces for patients? Are patients roomed based on their condition? (Stella room 307, Poe room 310)
  • Where did Stella get the snooker pole from? Is she allowed a sharp, dangerous object like that in the hospital? Who brought it in for her and how did it go unnoticed?
  • When meeting with Will, Stella had a white rose in her hair, by the time they got to the pool, it was gone. Where did it go? (surely the flower should represent something, like her innocence. It would be better if the rose fell to the ground when Stella revealed herself to Will to symbolise her breaking her innocence and insecurities)
  • How did Will and Stella get access to the swimming pool? How did they go unnoticed? Why was there no staff in or near the swimming pool? (It would be better if we saw the two sneaking into the pool, whilst dodging nurses and staff; it would add more suspense and heat up the love story)
  • When Stella finally found Stella outside her room,in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, in early hours, why didn't she make Stella go back to her room? Why didn't she check up on Stella? (especially in that clothing)
  • When Barbara realised both Will and Stella were outside her room, she went to find Stella but did she got o find Will? (she also interrogated Poe, what if the shock affected him - very bad nursing)
  • Will and Stella had their first date til the morning (early hours - we know this as Barbara came in and said 'morning'), that meant it was Will's birthday - why didn't Will say anything? Why didn't Stella realise?
  • How did Poe and Stella get access to the cafeteria? Why wasn't it locked up? How was Poe able to cook food and go unnoticed? (surely the smell would have notified staff)
  • How did Poe know the hospital's 'VIP areas'? How did Poe have access to these 'VIP areas'?
  • When Poe was in critical condition, why was his door left open? Why were no nurses concerned with other patients witnessing his death. Barbara did say that Stella should leave, but that was the only warning, no nurses physically moved/warned patients to stay clear
  • When Stella and Will went outside in the snow, the snow was very fake. It appeared more like dust
  • Why was Barbara just texting and calling Stella? Surely she should have sent out a search party if two patients are missing from the hospital unawares
  • When Stella fell through the ice, why wasn't there a sound of the ice breaking? Why didn't Stella scream or make a sound when she fell through?
  • When the two were finally saved, why were they taken to the same room to be checked up on? Surely this is dangerous? Cystic fibrosis patients are supposed to be a distance apart and patients in critical conditions should be treated individually in case they have spreadable infections and other medical reasons. So why were the two in the same location?
  • Why would the nurses and doctors stop working on Will and Stella to allow them to have a conversation when they are in critical condition?
  • Why is now after the accident that the hospital is aware that Will's treatment isn't working? He was supposed to be monitored closely (we can tell this wasn't the case due to his 'freedom' in the hospital throughout the film). Will's mother had a very calm composure when she heard this news, which is strange due to the previous disappointments the family has faced (Will was taken off the lung transplant list)
  • Isn't it dangerous to plug in external lights to a hospital? Why did Barbara allow Will to do his presentation for Stella?
  • Will never used the mask with teeth from the beginning, again
  • Stella was warned by Barbara to stay away from Will but she wasn't given the same restrictions from Poe
  • In one of her videos, Stella explained how her lungs were at a 50% working capacity. How then was she able to breathe without her oxygen tank?
  • When Will first got to the hospital, why did he follow Stella when he didn't know her?
  • Stella 'accidentally' locked Will on he roof. How did he get out? Why didn't he get into trouble for that? Wouldn't that have resulted in him being more closely monitored for his drug trial? Why didn't that lead to him having restrictions?
  • Stella and Will appear to 'choose' when they want to use real or artificial air. They put it on and take it off when they want.
  • The Will and Stella's breathing tube wires appear very long
  • When Stella went to organise Will's treatment and download a scheduling app, she created, on his phone, she never took her laptop out of his room. It is possible that it is Will's laptop, but how did she get up her app design onto his laptop? (after that she never used her laptop again in the film)
  • There was a scene where Stella wanted to visit Poe but he was sleeping. Both she and we discover this because Poe's door was open - why was this? The door should be closed, he's sleeping
  • How did Will's friends get away with having sex in his room? Wouldn't a nurse check on that, especially as Will left his room leaving them in there alone?
  • Will sprayed cologne and did not choke/cough - how? He even took off his breathing tube and was fine - how? (Will stated, when he first arrived, how bad his lungs were, hence him being on the drug trial)
  • Stella mentioned, on their first date, how she "always get sick", yet she appears fine in the hospital, she walks about freely
  • Why did no nurses come out alarmed that Will was popping balloons in the hospital - isn't it disturbing for patients?
  • Is it Barbara (a nurse) decision to transfer a patient without doctor's approval?
  • When Barbara arrived for her shift in the early morning, she didn't have painted nails. Later in the day her nails were painted pink - how?
  • Stella, Poe and Will only seem to fear nurse Barbara (Poe said how he did not think Barbara was working when she caught them in the cafeteria having a party for Will. Sounds like they only expect Barbara to control them. They only respect Barbara's commands - could link to why Will specifically asked Barbara if she would not only allow but also help him to do his presentation for Stella)
  • When Stella fell in the ice, at some point, she reached out to Will where he grabbed her out. How was she suddenly unconscious when she got out of the water?

Conclusion

Five feet apart gives greater meaning to the phrase 'distance makes the heart grow fonder'. The film presents a popular theme of preventive love, where two can't fall in love due to a number of reasons - in this case, medical. The film explores possibilities of connection where there are no links and successfully engages the audience to believe that love can fill any distance. There was definitely a Romeo and Juliet scene where Will attempted to save Stella thinking she was dead. Then Stella wakes up to find Will passed out. What was most interesting was how Poe appears to take the fall for this not-so-tragic love story, where neither lover dies unlike most films based on a medical love story. The main question is can these two really fall in love within a month's time? The answer; unknown. We don't see how these two fell in love, we just know they do because they commit to sacrifice, something that is hard to do for someone you barely know, especially when it comes to life or death. Love at the end of the day is subjective, so if they found love in a month - then it's their own type of love. There is not a recognisable happy ending but we all learn a valuable lesson not to take closeness for granted because "if you can touch, then touch, before you can't touch anymore"

Cast

Cole Sprouse - Will

Haley Lu Richardson - Stella

Moisés Arias - Poe

Kimberly Hebert Gregory - Nurse Barbara

review
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Debbie Bello
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