Symphony of Sniffles
Five Feet Apart | Directed by Justin Baldoni | Drama/Romance | PG-13 | 2 H 15 MIN
Written by Nicole Betts
I was lucky enough to get tickets to an advanced showing of “5 Feet Apart”. Now, I will admit right off the bat, I cried. A lot. I probably cried at four or five moments in this movie, which is both good and bad. I went into this movie expecting to cry, and that was fulfilled because the emotional impact the movie builds is well done. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie doesn’t support the cry-factor it has. It wasn’t a bad movie by any means, I didn’t leave it thinking I was cheated or promised something that they didn’t deliver. It is a great teenage romantic drama, has everything it needs to claim a spot next to “The Faults in Our Stars” or “The Notebook”. None of these movies are Oscar-level, but they give the audience what we are all expecting. A lot of cheesy, adorable moments interlaced with very heavy ideas and scenes. Yet I was still left feeling a bit let down. The first issue, our pessimistic and terminally ill dream boy.
We have already seen the pessimistic, terminally ill dream boy in “The Faults in Our Stars” and Augustus was a hell of a lot more likeable than Will. There is an obvious character arc and growth from the depressed and not caring boy into an emotional and hopeful young lad through his experiences with our main female lead. Yet… I never once believed it. The acting by Cole Sprouse was fine, nothing to complain about, but the character himself felt like he remained fairly one dimensional, even when he is meant to be a 180-flip in personality and outlook on life. In all honesty, for the first half of the movie I hated Cole Sprouse’s character. I found him annoying and cocky and not at all likeable, which is not how you want to start with the boy who is supposed to be the main romantic lead. He did grow on me by the end, and some of his romantic gestures did make me tear up, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of “I really didn’t like you before and it’s weird I like you now”.
I have another major issue with this movie that is hard to explain without spoiling but I will do my best. The movie includes a secondary plot line to add more drama to the story, and it failed in my opinion. What was meant to add another layer to our main girl instead felt like a rushed and not well-thought out story, awkwardly shoe-horned in. It had incredible promise and I feel it could have achieved its intended dramatic impact if it had gone through one more workshop. I forgot it was even a part of the movie until it was reintroduced. This failure of a secondary plot was sad because it could have added a seriously dark and dramatic layer to this movie.
I think the biggest fault of this movie is the secondary characters outshined the main characters. Every scene that included either the nurses or the best friend was the most entertaining because the secondary characters were interesting and comedic and dynamic. They added a fun twist to a fairly mundane story that has been done before. It is a tie which character was my favourite, Po the gay best friend or nurse Barb. Both were interesting and multi-dimensional, they were believable as real human beings and I was excited whenever I saw them on the screen. Po being gay was not his entire personality which was really refreshing to see. Instead, it built into his character and his own personal issues. As for nurse Barb, I loved her because she was not only a sassy mom character (which yes, is a trope but it wasn’t the worst portrayal of this trope I’ve seen) but showed the impact long-term patients have on their nurse.
Now that I’ve spent all this time saying all the reasons I didn’t like it, let’s get into the good because there is a lot of it. First and foremost, I cried and felt all the warm fuzzy feelings a romantic drama is meant to make you feel. I loved the way they portrayed the romance of the main characters because it was cute and cheesy. As well, their handling and explanation of cystic fibrosis was amazing, I was so impressed. It wasn’t just an excuse for sadness, they explained and demonstrated exactly why cystic fibrosis is so sad and devasting to not only those who have it but their loved ones as well. They showed treatments and issues and complications, it was a continuous discussion throughout the movie and I loved that. It was educational more than just a plot point. Plus, the final scene was glorious not because it was exceptional, but because in every quiet moment I heard a symphony of sniffles across the theatre. This is definitely a movie to either watch in theatres and share in the sadness with everyone else, or at home with someone to hold as you eat ice cream. Did I hate it? No, not even a little bit. Will it make my Oscars list? No. Will I watch it again? Absolutely, I just need to mentally prepare to cry again.
Watch the Official Trailer Below