The Dove Take:
The film’s strength is in this deep story of sacrificial love; but the language and sexual portrayals make for an unfortunate mixture.
A pair of teenagers with life-threatening illnesses meet in a hospital and fall in love.
Nothing is worse for a teen than to be socially handicapped. Stella and Will know this firsthand, both born with cystic fibrosis, trading their involvement in fun for breathing treatments and surgeries. When cynical, rebellious Will meets vibrant Stella in the hospital, it is plain to see their world views lack a little commonality. The clashes are comical at times, as Stella, an OCD Youtuber, doesn’t know how to control Will’s moods and messes. Ultimately, stubbornly caring for him and compulsively driven to see that he performs his elaborate medical regime to the ’t’, Stella succeeds in opening Will’s heart. This makes it even harder for them to honor the distance, but Barb, their hawk-eyed nurse, reminds Will that the super bacteria he carries, transmitted through a simple touch, could kill Stella.
As Will and Stella fast forward through their relationship, thoughts of futility replace dreams of future plans, and pondering the afterlife visits their conversations. It is clear these young people battle a deeper, darker consciousness, yet longing defiantly for life’s bright and fun moments. The future thats lurks around each corner hovers over their many friends and family members as well. The saddest aspect of the film is that none appear to have heard the truth of being created by a loving God who owns eternity, or of the redemption offered by believing and loving Christ, who too was pierced, who too understood loving sacrifice. Instead, Stella meditates and reads secular books about the afterlife. Will pontificates the darkness at the end of life.
Love is the central point to Five Feet Apart. Finding it, nurturing it. Will and Stella cling to a love strong enough to overcome physical barriers, but is their love strong enough to accept the consequences of breaking them? Through the film, both mature into persons of great sacrificial devotion to the other. On the downside, a supporting character Poe, Stella’s best friend and fellow “CFer”, is a gay 17 year-old-boy whose love for another boy is lifted up and celebrated, intentionally giving the film great PC, but defying God’s Word.
Produced on a relatively low budget, this film relies heavily on fine acting that propels a powerful story through a well written script. Production values are high with beautiful scores. There is a real life smattering of teen profanity, along with an obscene gesture and the overall message that sex is a normal teen pastime. Five Feet Apart isn’t a typical Dove film, but with some discussion and analyzation of the elements, it could be useful to older teens wishing to share the truth of the Good News. This film is not Dove Approved.
What to talk about
The message of sacrificial love breaks through and can certainly be a bridge to the Gospel.
The film is a purely secular story, the trials being fought on level ground without prayer. It doesn’t give the characters the option to pray or seek God’s help. This is quite frustrating to those who know Him and His power over darkness.
The film can be used to further understand the feeling of futility and be a resource to Christians seeking to help this segment of lost people.
Homosexual love is celebrated. Profanity is used. No consequences for teen sex.