A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't take life for granted. Grab love and joy wherever you can find them, and treasure those closest to you, because you don't know when death will come calling. Strong element of "if you love someone, set them free." Themes also include perseverance, empathy.
Positive Role Models
Although cystic fibrosis community is split on some aspects of movie, there's agreement that this is one of the few movies to even attempt to represent what it's like for teens living with CF (or something other than cancer). Stella, who also has OCD, is diligent about her treatment schedule, craves order. She's caring, loving to her parents and close friends. Will is edgier and has less discipline, but he's artistic and loving and wants to live each day to its fullest. Poe is a caring, selfless friend. The nurses are patient, dedicated, empathetic.
Violence & Scariness
A young man looks like he's perched precariously on a hospital roof and might fall. (Potential spoiler alerts ahead.) A young character who dies of cystic fibrosis is briefly shown coding, then dead on the floor. A character who looks to have died is saved via CPR. Sad conversations about loved ones who've died (and how they died).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of yearning looks and one scene in which Stella touches her chest sensually in front of Will after they both declare they could touch each other. They also undress down to their underwear and jump into the hospital pool together but don't touch purposely. They hold gloved hands. A couple of cases of asexual accidental touches, both in times of stress or emergency.
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Occasional use of strong language, including one "f---ing," plus "bitch" and a couple uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "hell," "goddamn," "boobs," "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
The AfflowVest, a branded mobile mechanical oscillation therapy device used by CF and other chronically ill pulmonary patients, is prominently featured.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Five Feet Apart is based on the best-selling YA novel about Will (Cole Sprouse) and Stella (Haley Lu Richardson), two hospitalized 17-year-olds with cystic fibrosis (CF) who fall in love. Since the guideline for CF patients is that they should stay a minimum of six feet apart from each other due to the danger of cross-infection, the title refers to the one foot the pair "take back" to be a tiny bit closer as their love story develops. Language isn't frequent but includes a use of "f---ing," plus "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," etc., and a few references to sex (or lack thereof). Will and Stella aren't supposed to touch, much less kiss (saliva exchange would be deadly, as one of them has a serious bacterial infection), so there's no sex, although they do undress down to their underwear in one romantic scene. The movie, which had a CF consultant, has been divisive within the CF community; some members are happy to see more awareness for the disease, which affects about 30,000 in the U.S., and others worry that the movie romanticizes the illness or misleads able-bodied audiences. Ultimately, the story promotes treasuring those closest to you and has themes of perseverance and empathy. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This love story requires some suspension of disbelief, but its charming stars and and tear-jerking romance will appeal to fans of The Fault in Our Stars. That doesn't mean audiences should expect as much heartbreak as in FiOS, but the "dying teenagers sharing an intense first love" is definitely a theme of Five Feet Apart, too. Richardson in particular is very talented, and she and Sprouse have just enough spark to make it work, although Stella and Will's romance isn't as swoon-worthy as Hazel Grace and Gus' or as adventurous as Maddy and Olly's. After all, Stella and Will can not, must not touch, so their relationship is limited to conversations and endless longing looks. For some inexplicable reason, their parents are rarely on the hospital floor (in sharp contrast to similar films in which parents sit vigil day after day), and the teens interact mostly with kind, maternal Nurse Barb (Kimberly Hebert Gregory). And Moises Arias stands out as Poe, Stella's hospital bestie and fellow CF patient. Poe supports the idea of Stella, who apparently also has OCD, "dating" Will, even though it puts her at great risk of losing her transplant eligibility.
Because the movie is almost wholly set in the hospital, the plot sometimes feels slow and predictable, and the teens' level of access to all parts of the facility seem far-fetched, considering that such a large hospital would definitely have more attentive security. And the fact that the teens somehow throw a Pinterest-level dinner party is flat-out unbelievable (even with the reason provided). Still, the story will undeniably tug at viewers' heartstrings, and given Sprouse's popularity (thanks to Riverdale), there's surely an eager fan base ready to see him fall in love, no matter how sad the circumstances.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.