Five Feet Apart' schmaltzy, exploitative

Film: "Five Feet Apart"; Cast: Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse; Director: Justin Baldoni; Rating: * ½ (one and a half stars)

Milking illness for tears is an epidemic obsession in cinema. Filmmakers keep coming up with esoteric diseases to justify a maelstrom of melodramatic manoeuvres.

"Five Feet Apart" has enough schmaltz in it to feed five long-running seasons of "General Hospital". The young callow protagonists Stella and Will, played by Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse, are critically unwell hospital patients. This gives the script a chance to skip and hop around the corridors of a hospital that looks like a play school for kindergarten where the favourite game is 'Doctor Doctor'.

One of the nurses is played by Emily Baldoni, director Justin Baldoni's wife. She looks like she dropped in with her husband's lunch on the set and decided to stay on for the heck of it.

The lead players are at best, amateurs thrown into a medically motivated romance that requires them to question the entire meaning of life and the possibility of afterlife when all they would rather do is hang out together in clubs and bowling alleys.

Not a single moment in this soppy sloppy presentation melts hearts. It all looks like a mushy Mills & Boon version of the 2014 romantic film "The Fault In Our Stars" that had some genuinely touching moments.

It is ironical a film that espouses the human touch as being more important than breathing doesn't have a single touching moment, not even the death of a jovial gay friend Poe who collapses in his room suddenly.

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