On March 15, 2019, the film “Five Feet Apart” premiered in theaters, starring Cole Sprouse as Will, and Lu Richardson as Stella. From his role as Rafael Solano in the TV show “Jane the Virgin”, director Justin Baldoni has gone above and beyond with “Five Feet Apart” as his feature directorial debut. The film is a masterpiece, full of drama and romance, which shows the struggles of two teenagers suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Solano’s inspiration for the movie came from his documentary “My Last Days”, where he met Claire Wineland, a victim of cystic fibrosis. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Baldoni said that, “She [Claire Wineland] was the one who told me that two people with CF have to stay six feet apart.” Wineland’s experiences and life story helped create the basis for “Five Feet Apart”. “Her soul is in this movie and it wouldn’t be made without her.”
One of Baldoni’s focal points when creating the script was making sure the movie accurately portrayed the life of a person suffering from cystic fibrosis and did not sugarcoat the disease during the romance of the main characters. In contrast to “The Fault in Our Stars”, which followed the disease of the characters as they went on a romantic trip to Amsterdam, “Five Feet Apart” displays the characters’ day-to-day struggles with cystic fibrosis, including their daily treatments and interactions with nurses and other patients.
To make the representation of Wineland’s story and that of thousands of other people in the United States as accurate as possible, Baldoni hired a cystic fibrosis nurse and a few other people with the disease to consult with him throughout the directing process. For example, Sprouse was asked to lose weight for the role, to align with the fact that the movie is not meant to glamourize the illness. Despite this and the fake scars on his body, Sprouse still looks as stunning and seductive as ever, creating a balance between the sickness and the storyline.
Even the personalities of characters are based on the personalities of actual people with cystic fibrosis. Wineland’s characteristics formed the foundation for Stella’s character and Richardson’s casting in the role of Stella. At a table read, Wineland said that “this was the first time she ever felt that her story and the stories of people with chronic illness like her were worthy of being seen on the big screen in an accurate way.”
The characters of Stella and Will are similar to those of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from the Disney movie “Tangled”. Stella is concerned about sticking to the rules enforced by the unfortunate illness that confines her to the hospital. On the other hand, Will is ready to push his limits and break the rules to make the most of the life that he has. The two meet at the beginning of the movie, and as it progresses Will finds a reason to live longer in his growing love for Stella, while Stella starts living her life how she wants, even if it means risking her it in order to be one foot closer to the person she loves most.
“Five Feet Apart” gives new meaning to the phrase “live each day like it’s your last.”
For patients of cystic fibrosis and many other chronic illnesses, death is a lot more imminent; any given day could easily be their last. Even the smallest decisions can be fatal, and most of us who don’t suffer the same challenges don’t realize the how lucky we are.
This movie teaches us to make the most out of what you have and do all you can to guarantee that at the end of your life, you can say that you’re satisfied with your experiences.
In the trailer and during the end credits for “Five Feet Apart”, the song “Don’t Give Up On Me” by Andy Grammer plays. This song fully encompasses all the themes of the movie and every line relates to a specific scene. The song does the movie great justice in expressing the themes accurately in a short span of time.
One stanza of the lyrics in particular really stuck out to me, and I believe is the biggest takeaway from the movie. It says,
“ ‘Cause I’m not givin’ up
I’m not givin’ up, givin’ up
No, not yet
Even when I’m down to my last breath
Even when they say there’s nothin’ left
So don’t give up on [me] ”
This stanza refers to not giving up on yourself and those that you love. It also urges us to do everything we can to help the people we care about get back up, even if it means putting our own lives on the line.
Life has a lot to live for, and if you’re ever in a position where you feel like giving up, hold on tight—because the ones around you want nothing more than to be there for you.
Photos by pluggedin.com