|Five Feet Apart|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Justin Baldoni|
|Cinematography||Frank G. DeMarco|
|Edited by||Angela M. Catanzaro|
|Box office||$90 million|
Five Feet Apart is a 2019 American romantic drama film directed by Justin Baldoni (in his directorial debut) and written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. The film was inspired by real life couple Dalton and Katie Prager, who both suffered from cystic fibrosis.Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse play two young patients with cystic fibrosis, who try to have a relationship despite always being forced to stay a certain distance away from each other. It was released in the United States on March 15, 2019, by CBS Films. The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed over $90 million worldwide.
Stella Grant is a cystic fibrosis patient who actively uses social media to cope with her illness and tries to live a normal life. She meets another CF patient, Will Newman, who is at the hospital for a medication trial, in an attempt to get rid of the bacterial infection (B. cepacia) he has in his lungs.
CF patients are strictly kept six feet apart to reduce the risk of cross-infection, as contracting bacterial infections from other CF patients can be dangerous, even life-threatening. Stella is determined to follow the rules, and initially dislikes Will, who likes to break the rules and take dangerous risks sometimes. Stella notices that Will isn't strictly following his treatment regimen and eventually gets him to agree to do so.
Will and Stella begin to fall for each other and secretly go on their first date, eventually ending up at the hospital pool, where they strip to reveal scars from their past surgeries. The next day is Will's birthday and Stella throws him a surprise dinner party with the help of Poe, Stella's best friend and a fellow CF patient.
Sometime thereafter, Poe dies and Stella laments that she never got to hug him. Heartbroken, Stella decides that she is living her life too strictly and convinces Will to leave the hospital with her in order to view the lights from the city. As they walk, Stella suddenly grabs Will's hand, scaring Will however Stella justifies that she has gloves on. They come across a pond and slide around on the frozen surface. Meanwhile, the hospital is notified that a lung transplant is available for Stella, who ignores alerts about it in order to spend more time out with Will.
When Will discovers this, he pleads with Stella to take the transplant. Stella refuses, before falling through the ice. Will is able to pull her out of the water, but Stella is unresponsive. Despite the risk of infection, Will performs CPR and Stella wakes up. They are then brought back to the hospital by ambulance. Though hesitant at first, Stella agrees to do the transplant after Will convinces her to do it for him. The transplant is successful, and Will learns that Stella did not contract his infection.
When Stella wakes up from her surgery, she sees Will through the glass of her room. He has setup a display of lights outside of her room, saying that his only regret was that she did not get to see the lights so he brought them to her. He tells her that his drug trial isn't working, and he doesn't want her to have to deal with his eventual death. Confessing his love for her, Will makes her close her eyes, because he says he won't be able to leave if she is looking at him. Stella closes her eyes and Will walks away.
Baldoni first became involved with cystic fibrosis when he directed the documentary My Last Days. He met Youtuber Claire Wineland and subsequently hired her as a consultant for the film, before she died from complications of CF.
In January 2018, Cole Sprouse was cast to star in the film, titled Five Feet Apart. In April 2018, Haley Lu Richardson was also set to star, and Moisés Arias joined in a supporting role. Principal production began on May 25, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and concluded a month later, on June 26, 2018.
The film's title refers to the "six foot rule", a guideline from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which states that cystic fibrosis patients should be kept at least six feet (2 m) apart from each other, to lower the risk of cross-infection.
Five Feet Apart has grossed $45.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $34.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $80.1 million, against a production budget of $7 million.
In the United States and Canada, Five Feet Apart was released alongside Captive State and Wonder Park, and was projected to gross $6-10 million from 2,600 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $5.4 million on its first day, including $715,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $13.1 million, finishing third, behind Captain Marvel and Wonder Park. The film fell 35% in its second weekend, grossing $8.5 million, and just 27% in its third to $6.3 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 55% based on 112 reviews, with an average rating of 5.69/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Elevated considerably by Haley Lu Richardson's performance but bogged down by clichés, Five Feet Apart doesn't tug at the heartstrings quite as deftly as it should." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while filmgoers at PostTrak gave it out of 5 stars.
Andrew Barker of Variety praised the performance of Richardson, which he called "a star turn," though described the film as an "otherwise formulaic teen romance." Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times acclaimed Richardson for the depth and range of her performance. Caroline Siede of The A.V. Club commended the lead performances, but said "In the end... even Richardson and Sprouse can't fully overcome the clumsy mawkishness around them."
Responses from the cystic fibrosis community have been mixed. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation welcomed the opportunity to raise awareness about the struggle many patients experience with the disease, while others found fault with the film's depiction of medically dangerous behavior. Others voiced concern about a terminal illness being romanticized and trivialized as a Hollywood teen love plot device.
The film was promoted using Instagram, where the studio paid influencers to post about hardships involving love and physical distance. Many of the posts discussed family members who lived far away; the promotion was perceived as tone-deaf and trivializing a fatal disease. After the ensuing backlash, the campaign was pulled and the studio apologized.