Thursday, March 14, 2019

Another YA weepie hits the screen

I learned something about cystic fibrosis watching Five Feet Apart, a YA weepie that follows in the footsteps of The Fault in Our Stars. But aside from information gleaned about the disease and empathy generated for those who suffer from it, I was left with another yawn of a young adult romance, this one about a love that can't be consummated: Fear of infection keeps two hospitalized young lovers from being able to touch each other. Sparked by a bubbly performance by Haley Lu Richardson , the movie never really conquers the formula that dominates it. As the over-organized Stella, Richardson paints a portrait of a normal teen in every respect save one: She has a terrible disease. After the two principals -- the other is played by Cole Sprouse of TV's Riverdale -- pass through the obligatory irritation stage, they fall in love. This being YA fiction, bases must be touched: You probably won't be surprised to learn that Stella is given a wise-cracking gay pal (Moises Arias). Director James Baldoni occasionally delivers emotional realism but the screenplay builds toward a melodramatic finale that either will have you reaching for a handkerchief or recoiling at its undisguised manipulations -- or maybe both.

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