Film Reviews: ‘Five Feet’ falls short, ‘Captive State’ keeps it human
Survival under difficult circumstances is the theme of two new movies in town, though in one the “difficulty” is living with chronic disease and in the other it’s an alien takeover by insect-like monsters called “The Legislature” who disintegrate humans with a blast of high-energy gas (or something).
“Five Feet Apart,” directed by actor-turned-television-host (“Man Enough”) Justin Baldoni, follows two teens who’ve got cystic fibrosis. Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse) initially bond through Stella’s CF-themed video blog, end eventually fall in love. Since CF patients risk deadly infection if they get too close to one another, the romantic impediments to Will and Stella’s romance are not small. But that’s nothing compared to what the humans of Earth have to deal with in “Captive State,” after the big bad bugs move in and turn the Earth into a sad, gray alien version of France after the Nazis took over in WWII.
Here’s what two writers from our pool of local film critics have to say about these new films.
‘FIVE FEET APART’
Love comes second to survival in this tear-jerking teen romance.
“Five Feet Apart” doesn’t feel like watching a film. The makeup of flushed cheeks and exhaustion is brutally realistic, and the set design includes discarded banana peels and lived-in hospital rooms.
“We’re living on borrowed air,” Will comments, faced with the imminent failure of his lungs.
I was drawn to the vlogging theme, where characters present a perky exterior to the internet, only to sink into dark reality when the camera turns off. Our everyday reality of technology is evident, from calling each other through video chat between hospital rooms to text message bubbles popping up directly on the screen.
There is a lot to like about “Five Feet Apart” until the angst-driven love story emerges. Suddenly the intense, almost documentary-style storytelling dissolves in favor of a cliché relationship complete with moonlit walks through the snow and the inevitable sexy pool scene. The editing becomes sloppy, and the movie drags its way to an eyeroll-inducing finale.
“Five Feet Apart” is a missed opportunity. The film couldn’t decide whether it was an honestly beautiful depiction of cystic fibrosis patients or a sappy Disney romance.
‘CAPTIVE STATE’ (PG-13)
How do you cope in a post-war world when your side has lost ... and by side I mean the entire human race?
“Captive State” brilliantly tackles this question.
Ten years into an alien occupation, one impoverished community is on the brink of revolution. The plot follows two protagonists, a lower class teenager stuck between acceptance and resistance (Ashton Sanders), the other a conflicted police sergeant tasked with stopping the human resistance. That last one is masterfully played by John Goodman.
It was really cool to observe these two sides of this dystopian life, especially considering that in the grand scheme of things, both are on the same team.
While this movie is definitely sci-fi, it is grounded in very human themes, from grief to morality, to the costs of fighting for your basic rights. The basic story might not sound unique, but the style of its storytelling definitely is. If you dig dystopian-future flicks, this definitely is worth a see.