Five Feet Apart Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: a story about the illness of the main characters, in which there is no hospital claustrophobia; engaging characters; Stella’s YouTube channel Cons: clichés of romantic dramas Five Feet Apart

Drama genre
Directed by Justin Baldoni
Starring Haley Lu Richardson (Stella), Cole Sprouse (Will), Moises Arias (Poe), Kimberly Hebert (Nurse Barb), Parminder Nagra (Dr. Noor Hamid), etc.
CBS Films, Wayfarer Entertainment
Year of release 2019
IMBD site

At the center of the film is the girl Stella, a hospital patient diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (cystic fibrosis). She is undergoing treatment and runs her own YouTube channel, where she talks about the fight against a disease that affects the exocrine glands and impairs the functions of the respiratory system. Stella always sticks to the rules, so it is difficult for her to come to terms with the appearance of a new patient – a guy named Will, who does not care at all about his medication regimen.

An obsession with order forces Stella to take control of Will’s treatment. But they need to follow the “five steps” rule: patients with cystic fibrosis should not come closer than a meter to each other, otherwise they can contract an infection, which is catastrophically dangerous for their lives. Gradually, teenagers become sympathetic, so it becomes difficult for them to keep their distance.

Five Steps to Love is the first Hollywood film to highlight the challenges associated with cystic fibrosis. Its premiere sparked lively discussions among people living with this disease: some were glad that, with the help of cinema, cystic fibrosis was finally being talked about publicly, while others expressed concern about the possible romanticization, which would lead to a distorted view of treatment .


Judging by the first reviews of the film, the writers did not violate medical boundaries. The response from the cystic fibrosis community has been overwhelmingly positive, The Guardian reports. According to them, many of the symptoms of the disease are depicted on the screen with frightening accuracy. Much of this goes to activist and blogger Claire Wineland, who advised director Justin Baldoni (creator of the Jane the Virgin series) before filming the film. Unfortunately, Claire never saw the result of her work – the girl, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a child, did not survive the lung transplant surgery and died at the age of 21.


The leading actors Haley Lu Richardson (“Split”) and Cole Sprouse (star of the series “Riverdale”) also underwent special consultation. The actors do not overact, copying the external signs of the disease, and harmoniously convey the emotions of their characters. Both artists are older than teenagers in real life, but this is not noticeable on camera.

The story of the characters takes place on the territory of the hospital – this, oddly enough, is not repulsive. In some places, the filmmakers embellished the atmosphere of the medical facility, diluting the shots with spacious corridors, a meditation room and a huge swimming pool. More often than not, it serves as a reminder that patients’ lives go on, no matter how long they have to be surrounded by hospital walls. The soundtrack, which includes songs by M83 and Birdy, also helps to distract from the oppressive situation.


The film “Five Steps to Love” suffers from long dialogues and romantic clichés. This is required by the genre of the film, the script of which is built around the love of two teenagers. Therefore, there is no point in grumbling about it – it is obvious that the film is intended for an audience of a certain age. Such films with a tragic basis have previously found a response among young viewers. For example, the drama The Fault in Our Stars topped the US box office, and earlier films Restless, Keith and A Walk to Remember were hits at home.


The film “Five Steps to Love” is important because, in addition to the love story, it shows the realities of people forced to put up with a disease that requires them to be partially isolated. The example of adolescents is the best way to demonstrate the emotional toll that patients diagnosed with cystic fibrosis experience.


Based on the description of the plot, it may seem that the film will depress the viewer. This is wrong. Five Steps to Love is a good teen story that not only talks about falling in love, but also what people with cystic fibrosis go through.

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