“We need that touch from the one we love almost as much as we need air to breathe. But I never understood the importance of touch. His touch. Until I couldn’t have it.” – Stella
What’s love without touch? Is love more vital than life? ‘Five Feet Apart’, a tear-jerking romance centered around two teenagers living with cystic fibrosis has a real voice reaching to the teens that love isn’t contingent to human touch. It puts an ultimate spin on the Romeo and Juliet dilemma.
This film utilizes a few predictable themes, like the not-at-all discrete lust of ‘To All The Boys I Have Loved Before’ and the ailing characters’ romance of ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. Yet, ’Five Feet Apart’ stands on its own, with a more unique set of tropes described by the horridly unique circumstances of these infirm kids.
The film is about Stella, who is suffering from the deadly cystic fibrosis with hectic routines, confined boundaries, and self-control until she meets Will, who she finds immensely charming and impossibly irresistible. The tragic coincidence is that Will is suffering from the same illness. There is a harsh restriction to them coming closer since they have to maintain a six feet distance to maintain proper health terms to survive. But what begins as an obligation turns into deep love, one that’s fuelled by hope.
“Watching them holding hands and exchanging longing glances, I wonder what it would be like to have somebody look at me like that.”
Human touch, something we take for granted every day, is what Stella and Will couldn’t ever experience. They swiftly portray that though love is not about touch, yet it is all about touch, the touch felt by one heart from the other.
“If I am going to die, I am actually going to live first.”
The movie reminds the viewers that life is worth living, love is worth fighting for. Despite all the complications, Will and Stella choose to live together, believing in themselves that the six feet distance can’t keep their hearts apart.
“People are always looking at my cannula, my scars, my G-tube, not at me.” But was this enough to demotivate Stella? Nah. This portrays how staunchly they believe in themselves and how they don’t pay heed to others’ opinion about them. Their own opinion is enough to driving them to lead a joyful life.
This was a heart-wrenching moment for Stella. Despite being hit hard by her best friend’s death, instead of being depressed she pushed herself to live merrily the unpredicted length of life she was destined to live.
“Everyone in this world is breathing borrowed air.”
Yet again a self-motivating quote used by Will to convince himself that he was in no way different from the rest. He persuaded himself that the sickness he had was in a way common amongst all the people. The only difference was that the others didn’t have to use the cannulas or the cylinders or go through the innumerable dreadful surgeries he had to suffer through.
Moreover, looking at the film’s title, it is evident that it’s quite misleading. Five feet apart isn’t the rule. Those with cystic fibrosis are required to stay six feet apart at all times to keep their life from danger. But the title of the film refers to Stella’s desperation to one day come close to someone and her decision to “steal one foot back” and come, if not much, a tiny bit closer to Will as their love story develops.
The film ends with Stella addressing to the audience “So if you’re watching this, and you’re able to, touch him. Touch her. Life’s too short to waste a second.” It enabled the viewers to comprehend what she felt and gave them a personal lesson based on her incredibly persuasive journey.
-Ishani Singh, Amity International School, Noida