Story

Five Feet Apart gives a glimpse into the life of 17-year-old Stella (Hayley Lu Richardson), who suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF) and is back in the hospital waiting for a lung transplant. She meets Will (Cole Sprouse), a headstrong, young artist who also has CF and a deadly bacteria as well. With the support of Po (Moises Arias), who’s Stella’s gay, long-time friend and fellow CF patient, they strike up an unlikely friendship that soon leads to romance.

Stella helps Will find hope and teaches him to follow his treatment schedule, while Will shows Stella how to embrace life, take chances and live in the moment. CF suffers must always stay at least six feet away from each other so that they don’t make each other sick, but Stella and Will decide to steal a foot back and remain only five feet apart. After all, they reason, CF has already stolen so much from them.

Despite nurse Barb’s (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) best efforts to keep them in line and apart, Will and Stella show everyone the depth of their devotion to each other and their willingness to sacrifice everything not only for love, but also for life.

Themes

Death; serious illness; family breakdown.

Violence

Five Feet Apart has some violence. For example:

  • Will goes up to the roof of the hospital and it looks like he’ll jump. He doesn’t, but he does pretend to fall off. Stella gets angry and stalks away, slamming the roof door behind her.
  • When Po dies, Stella gets into a furious rage. She trashes her room, tears down her artwork, and throws and smashes things. When Will tries to put a hand on her shoulder, she freaks out and screams at him to get out.

Sexual references

Five Feet Apart has some sexual references. For example:

  • Will tells his friends to ‘use protection’ as he leaves them alone in his room.
  • His male friend says, ‘It’ll only take a minute’.
  • Stella accuses Will of hiring his room out for sex.
  • Po asks Stella, ‘Have you two ever …?’
  • Will asks Stella about sex. He later says that he’d like to have sex in the Vatican.
  • Will tells Stella that everything about her is sexy.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Five Feet Apart shows some use of substances. For example, Stella, Will and Po repeatedly take various drugs and medications for medicinal purposes.

Nudity and sexual activity

Five Feet Apart has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Two of Will’s friends who come to visit him in the hospital flirt with each other on Will’s bed. They ask him if they can use his room for sex.
  • Will and Stella are on a date, when Stella begins using a pool stick in a flirtatious way. She slowly runs the tip over her shoulder and breast in response to Will’s statement that he wishes he could touch her.
  • Stella slowly takes off her clothes, leaving only her bra and underpants, while Will watches. Will then takes off his clothes, and they both jump into the pool together.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Five Feet Apart:

  • Stella has a YouTube channel where she posts videos of herself going through her treatments. She aims to help her audience understand what it’s like to live with cystic fibrosis. Other social media sites are also mentioned and briefly shown. These include Instagram and Facebook.
  • The Afflow vest, which is used to help patients with pulmonary disorders, is also prominently featured.

Coarse language

Five Feet Apart has occasional coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Five Feet Apart is a romantic, heart-rending drama about doomed young love. It highlights the plight of patients living with cystic fibrosis and will appeal to adult and teenage audiences. Although the plot is fairly predictable, the acting is very good and the movie’s messages are purposeful and empowering.

The main messages from this movie are to:

  • seize every moment and truly live your life
  • value your time because you never know when it will run out
  • show kindness and empathy towards others
  • love your family and friends with all your heart and hug them if you can
  • realise the importance of human touch and never take it for granted.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • discipline
  • empathy
  • gratitude for the simple things in life
  • love and connection
  • positivity and hopefulness even in the darkest of times.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of following medical advice and taking precautions. There can be fatal consequences for not following medical rules.