Australian Council on Children and the Media

Five Feet Apart

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Not recommended under 13 and parental guidance to 15 (Language, sexual references, distressing scenes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Five Feet Apart
  • a review of Five Feet Apart completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 April 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Due to language, sexual references and some distressing scenes this film is not recommended for children under the age of 13.
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance recommended.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Five Feet Apart
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Coarse language
Length 116 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Five Feet Apart gives audiences a glimpse into the life of 17-year-old Stella (Hayley Lu Richardson), who suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF) and is back in the hospital waiting for a lung transplant. It is here that she meets Will (Cole Sprouse), a headstrong, young, artist also suffering with CF but carrying a deadly bacteria as well. With the support of Po (Moises Arias), a homosexual teenager, fellow CF patient and long-time friend of Stella, they strike up an unlikely friendship that soon leads to romance. Stella helps Will find hope and teaches him to follow his treatment schedule; while Will shows Stella how to embrace life, take chances and live in the moment. CF suffers must always stay at least 6 feet away from each other so that they do not make each other sick, but Stella and Will decide to steal a foot back and only remain 5 feet apart as CF has already stolen so much from them. Repeated acts of kindness from both sides show their relationship grow from friendship to love and despite nurse Barb’s (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) best efforts to keep them in line and keep them apart, Will and Stella show everyone the depth of their devotion to each other and what they are willing to sacrifice not only for love, but also for life.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death; serious illness; and family breakdown.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Will goes up to the roof of the hospital and it looks like he will jump. He doesn’t but at one point he pretends to fall off and Stella gets angry and stalks away slamming the roof door behind her.
  • When Po dies, Stella, in a furious rage, trashes her room: tearing down her artwork, throwing things and smashing items. When Will tries to put a hand on her shoulder she freaks out and screams at him to “Get Out!”

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Stella and Will both show each other their scars from multiple surgeries and where they are connected by tubes. Some small children may not understand and may find it disturbing.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Stella and Will watch as Po dies. The nurses and doctors try to save him but there is nothing that anyone can do. The scene is extremely intense and emotionally charged.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Stella falls through the ice in a small lake and it looks like she is drowning. Will tries to save her and manages to get her out of the water. They are both freezing, and it looks as if both are dying when Stella suddenly begins to breathe again.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Aside from the constant threat of death handing over the main characters’ heads there is nothing in the film that would frighten children over the age of 13.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Stella has a You Tube channel where she posts videos of herself going through her treatments and helps her audience understand what it is like to live with cystic fibrosis in a fun and engaging way. Other social media sites are also mentioned and briefly shown: Instagram, chat rooms and Facebook.
  • The 'Afflow' vest, used to help patients with pulmonary disorders, is also prominently featured.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Will tells his friends to “use protection” as he leaves them alone on his room.
  • His male friend says that “It will only take a minute.”
  • Stella accuses Will of hiring his room out for sex.
  • Po asks Stella: “Have you two ever…?”
  • Will asks Stella about Sex and later says that he would like to have sex in The Vatican.
  • Will tells Stella that everything about her is sexy.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Two of Will’s friends who come to visit him in the hospital are seen sitting on each other on Will’s bed where they ask him if they can use his room for sex.
  • Will and Stella are on a date, when Stella begins using the pool stick they have kept between them to touch herself, slowly running the tip over her shoulder and breast in response to Will’s statement that he wished he could touch her.
  • Stella slowly takes off her clothes, leaving only her bra and panties, while Will watches. Will then takes off his clothes and they both jump into the pool together.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Stella, Will and Po are repeatedly seem taking a variety of drugs and medications – though all are used for medicinal purposes.

Coarse language

There is occasional coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “ Bullshit,” “Asshole,” “Shit,” “Bitch,” “Hoe,” “Fucking,” “Screw you!”  “Goddamn” “Hell” and several rude finger gestures.

In a nutshell

Five Feet Apart is a romantic, heart wrenching drama about young love that cannot be. It highlights the plight of patients living with Cystic Fibrosis and will appeal to adult and teenage audiences. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the acting is top notch and messages are both purposeful and empowering.

The main messages from this movie are to seize every moment and to truly live your life, to value your time because you never know when it will run out, to show kindness and empathy towards others, to love your family and friends with all your heart and to hug them if you can, to realise the importance of human touch and never take it for granted.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Gratitude for the simple things in life.
  • Love and connection.
  • Positivity and hopefulness even in the darkest of times.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of following medical advice and taking precautions as there can be fatal consequences for failing to follow those rules.

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