Taking a Foot Back

New movie depicts the lives of teens with cystic fibrosis

Photo+courtesy+of+Fangirlish
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Taking a Foot Back

Photo courtesy of Fangirlish

Photo courtesy of Fangirlish

Photo courtesy of Fangirlish

Photo courtesy of Fangirlish

Elizabeth Hahn, Staff Writer

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Teens across the world are struggling with a horrible disease called cystic fibrosis, a disease where mucus builds up in the lungs. This disease takes over their lives. Most kids with CF have to live at the hospital and do many different types of treatments. The most important rule in their lives is that they have to remain six feet apart from any other person with the same disease because being any closer poses a risk that could lead to death. Cystic fibrosis pretty much takes away any possibility of a normal life. In the new movie, Five Feet Apart, two teens struggling with this disease decide to take something back: one foot.

Five Feet Apart follows the life of Stella Grant. As a kid, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. She has lived in the hospital pretty much her whole life. The only thing that keeps her sane is following her to-do list and organizing her med cart, as she is slightly OCD. Since Stella stays in the hospital everyday of her life, she never really cared much about boys. The only boy she interacts with is her best friend, Poe, who also has CF. Stella never thought she was meant to have a relationship until she meets her polar opposite, Will Newman. He also has CF on top of being unorganized, snarky, and unreliable, when it comes to following his treatments. Will takes an interest in Stella. The two try to help each other throughout the course of the movie. As their relationship grows, they decide to break the biggest rule of CF. They stand five feet apart, instead of the recommended six feet.

The plot of this movie kept me very engaged. Most stories about diseases follow the same plot line: boy meets girl, they fall in love, and one of them dies. That sounds morbid, but it’s true. Five Feet Apart is different. The story focuses on Stella and Will for the most part, but Poe plays a major role in a lot of the movie. Usually, these cancer movies only focus on the two people with cancer, so it was nice to see this one provided storylines for side characters, as well. There was many plot twists and unexpected moments that left me wondering what would happen next.

As well as being very captivating, Five Feet Apart was also heartbreaking. Although I didn’t cry, it was apparent in the sniffles of the rest of the crowd that this movie was effective in “hitting people in the feels.” Seeing the constant struggle that people with CF go through is hard to watch. Most CF patients live at the hospital, go through many treatments, and try different drug trials that may or may not be effective in curing them. As of now, there’s no cure for CF. This movie made me think about how many kids are sitting in hospitals right now knowing that their days are limited. It honestly breaks my heart and makes me appreciate how lucky I am to be healthy, live in my own house, and all these other things that people usually take for granted.

The only thing about this movie that bothered me was the fact that they were breaking such a big rule in the CF community. It makes it clear in the movie that germs can travel as far as six feet, which poses a risk of CF patients getting infected with each other’s mucus. Infections like this are deadly. I don’t really support the movie’s idea of “taking a foot back.” Young kids with CF could see this movie and think it’s okay for them to do the same when it comes to their friends with CF. I think this is potentially a dangerous thing for them to include. However, seeing what happens when the two teens in the movie do this might be enough to prevent other kids from ignoring the 6 feet rule.

Although I liked the movie, my opinion really isn’t what matters most in this case. People who actually have cystic fibrosis are the only ones who can say if they’re being accurately represented or not. Some people with CF think this movie has a lot of inaccuracies and problems. According to an MSN article titled “Five Feet Apart: All the Controversies Explained,” some people with CF actually think this movie is misrepresenting them. The main problems include the fact that they walk around without their masks on so much and that they are actually required to be more than six feet apart from each other. In a hospital, there are so many germs being spread through the air. Germs are what make CF patients’ conditions worse. In the movie, the two teens with CF barely ever wear their masks, which would pose huge health risks. With CF, they cough a lot, so there’s possibility that germs could be spread to another patient if they aren’t wearing a mask. This could lead to even worse sickness or death. This doesn’t represent a good way to take care of CF, which could be dangerous. The six feet apart rule usually means literally six feet. However, patients that are in line for a lung transplant are required more than six feet apart. Stella is line for new lungs, but her doctor still requires only the six feet.

Others believe this movie is good representation for people with CF. The storylines of Stella and Will are relatable to some teens with this disease. In The Cut article titled “10 people with Cystic Fibrosis on Five Feet Apart,” one of the girls feels like she can relate to Stella feeling like she is missing out on life with her friends because of her disease. People with CF can’t just leave the hospital whenever they want. They have strict rules to follow. Another person related to Will and his denial of having the disease. Many CF patients attempt to not let the disease define them. This is good in some circumstances, but it can lead to these people not treating their disease with as much care as they should. The opinions of this movie from people with CF are varied.

Five Feet Apart may have slight issues, but I think that it was overall a pretty good movie. It’s always risky to romanticize a disease like this, but I think the people behind this movie executed it well. The characters storylines were engaging, and the heartbreaking moments are nicely put together. I wish that all the people with CF got the representation they wanted, but I think it was good for a movie like this to be made. I definitely didn’t know how serious this disease was until I watched the movie. People should see this movie but know that there’s more to this disease than the movie provides.

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