Five Feet Apart ★★★

It’s almost irrelevant that Justin Baldoni’s “Five Feet Apart” is atypically urgent for a YA-flavored romantic drama about the impossible love between two star-crossed teenagers. Or that Haley Lu Richardson manages to pump some blood into even the most contrived moments of Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis’ script, reaffirming the “Columbus” and “Support the Girls” actress as a generational talent on the rise. It doesn’t really matter that the movie uses emotionally pornographic M83 songs and The Postal Service covers to pave over its bumpy stretches, or even that its climactic swing for the fences is an exhausting whiff at the end of a film that just needed to get the ball in play.

What’s important about “Five Feet Apart” is that it’s the first widely accessible Hollywood movie ever made about cystic fibrosis, and that it’s good enough to guarantee at least small uptick in awareness of (and attention to) the perennially under-supported fight to cure one of nature’s cruelest genetic diseases (it causes the human body to produce a thick mucus that covers vital organs and makes it difficult to breathe). That’s not to excuse the film’s shortcomings, but rather to acknowledge how Baldoni’s debut feature has a different and more pointed agenda than “The Fault in Our Stars” — how this overwrought weepy uses its subgenre as a means to an end.

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