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Five Feet Apart (Blu-ray) (2019)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Making Of-Crossing It Off: Making Five Feet Apart
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-On the Set of Five Feet Apart
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Attention to Detail
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-An Artist's Eye
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Theatrical Fan Event
Audio Commentary-with Director Justin Baldoni
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
||Ads Then Menu
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Haley Lu Richardson
Kimberly Hebert Gregory
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
Romantic dramas involving terminal illness were popularised again with the 2014 box office hit The Fault in Our Stars, an adaptation of the popular young adult novel of the same name. 2019's Five Feet Apart ditches cancer in favour of cystic fibrosis, with screenwriters Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis using the opportunity to educate mainstream film-goers about the intense difficulties of this debilitating, life-threatening disorder. The feature-length directorial debut for veteran TV actor Justin Baldoni, Five Feet Apart actually works for the most part despite the story's been-there-done-that disposition; it is easy to become invested in this vividly drawn world, and care about the central relationship. Unfortunately, the movie is handicapped by a third act which devolves into exasperating melodrama, though the ultimate dénouement is effective in spite of its forced, manipulative nature.
Teenager Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) is afflicted with cystic fibrosis, attempting to live a normal life as she keenly uses social media to communicate her daily routine to the world. Returning to the hospital with renewed health issues, Stella meets former CF patient Will (Cole Sprouse), who's undergoing a special clinical drug trial but cannot bring himself to maintain a consistent treatment program. Although Stella is initially resentful of Will and hesitant to speak to him, the two eventually make a deal which allows Will to draw Stella, and Stella to organise Will's treatment program that he must follow to the letter. The pair build a relationship, but continue to respect the rule of maintaining a distance of at least six feet from one another, at the risk of dying from cross-infection. Will's devil-may-care attitude begins to rub off on Stella, who chooses to rebel against the rules and remain only five feet away from fellow CFers.
In many respects, Five Feet Apart plays out like a flavour of the month YA novel, to the extent that one could be forgiven for assuming this is a YA adaptation. However, the material actually began as a screenplay before being adapted into a book while the movie was in post-production. There's a slight When Harry Met Sally vibe to the central characters' relationship, with Stella's clinical OCD tendencies and Will's rebellious streak rendering them virtually incompatible as a couple. Chief to the film's success is the sense of authenticity, with Baldoni recruiting real CF sufferer Claire Wineland as a consultant on the project. This certainly is a fascinating conceit for a romantic drama, and the film will likely aid CF awareness as a result. Five Feet Apart works best when focusing on gentle character interaction, with the second act soaring as Stella and Will experience the ups and downs of their budding relationship. This delicate emotionality is thrown to the wind, however, with a desperate last act that goes unnecessarily big. Character action lacks proper motivation, and the characters' rampant stupidity might make you question whether this story is still worth your investment.
Whereas comparable motion pictures are usually pedestrian from a filmmaking standpoint, Five Feet Apart is visually inviting and sumptuous, photographed to perfection by cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco (All Is Lost, Margin Call). Shot in a recently built hospital in New Orleans, the production design is eye-catching, transforming the sterile hospital rooms into believable, personalised, lived-in spaces, underscoring the reality of how CF patients live. Baldoni happily avoids the temptation to turn the hospital into a prison, depicting the clinical staff as strict but wholly human, with the sometimes frustratingly by-the-book Barb (Kimberly Hebert Gregory) simply concerned with patient safety. It's a refreshing perspective, eschewing any superfluous forced antagonists beyond CF itself. Baldoni's filmmaking style is recognisable for this genre, often resorting to montages accompanied by cutesy pop music, while the score by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian shamelessly pulls on the heartstrings.
Perpetually keeping the material afloat, even throughout its rougher patches, are the lead actors. As Stella, Richardson is so natural and down-to-earth, handling the diverse requirements of the script like a consummate professional. She is able to convey joy, sadness, frustration and love with seemingly little effort, and she's charming to boot. Meanwhile, recognisable former child actor Sprouse (whom you may remember from Big Daddy and Friends) makes an equally good impression as the brooding love interest, giving the role real gravitas and believability. Five Feet Apart is unmistakably cheesy at times, but it does work more often than not thanks to the level of sincerity on display, and its heart is in the right place. It's just less successful when the movie resorts to unfortunate YA clichés, a creative choice that is especially disheartening since the story's conceit is otherwise unconventional. Nevertheless, Five Feet Apart will almost certainly work for its target market, and you could do a lot worse in this subgenre.
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An unexpected box office success, Five Feet Apart was filmed digitally (with Arri Amira cameras) and finished with a 2K digital intermediate, according to IMDb's technical information. Making use of a dual-layered BD-50, Roadshow presents the movie on Blu-ray in AVC-encoded 1080p, framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Taking advantage of the available disc space, the movie is mastered with a solid average video bitrate of 27.50 Mbps, resulting in a sufficiently eye-catching and faithful rendering of the low-budget source. It's not exactly reference material or one of the best Blu-rays I've ever seen, but it does look extremely good by anybody's standards, a testament to both the encoding and the excellent cinematography.
First things first, the movie's opening sequence is comprised of rough "home video" footage (personally filmed by director Baldoni, as specified in the commentary) which was taken on cell phones and cheap handicams. Therefore, said footage looks understandably flawed, with noticeable macroblocking, poor detailing, and blocky noise, but that's all traceable to the source and not even a 4K encode could improve it much. However, once the presentation shifts to the proper film footage, which was taken with enormously expensive Amira cameras, there is little to complain about. Texturing is consistently impressive, revealing ample fine detail on skin, costumes and environments. One shot at 87:05 almost looks 4K due to the beautiful textures on Stella's face and clothing (the leather glove and the beanie are a standout). The transfer is additionally coated in a subtle but agreeable layer of source noise to accentuate the textures. The noise occasionally looks a bit blocky, but it's thankfully never distracting. Since this is a digital production, and there are limitations to 1080p, some shots and moments look a bit flat - see the birthday party at the 75-minute mark, which is shot under low light and therefore the presentation struggles with shadow detail. However, there's no outright smeariness, which is a testament to the competent encode. Highlights are sometimes hit and miss, particularly on faces when lighting is limited, but only a lick of High Dynamic Range could really improve this.
For the most part, the transfer is agreeably sharp to boot, exhibiting crisp edges on the sets and characters. In a full shot at the 79-minute mark of a hospital door you can almost read the signs in tiny lettering, while the whiteboard at the nurses' station is consistently comprehensible. Object delineation is strong no matter the environment or lighting, while contrast is impressive. Blacks are as deep as can be expected considering the 1080p encode, and there's a fair bit of gorgeous vibrancy and depth. Baldoni reveals in the commentary that views outside hospital windows are completely CGI, which would explain why said shots look a tad soft with noticeably blocky noise, but it's not a huge issue. The colour palette is naturalistic; it's nicely saturated but not overcooked, with accurate skin tones and realistic but visually inviting environments. Aside from some of the aforementioned shortcomings, the encoding is borderline perfect, with no signs of black crush, aliasing, banding, macroblocking, or anything else. It's difficult to imagine anybody being disappointed with Roadshow's mostly superb video presentation, which will please fans and videophiles alike.
English subtitles (for the hearing impaired) are included. I found the subtitle track to be well-formatted and easy to read.
Video Ratings Summary
Five Feet Apart comes to Blu-ray with three audio options: a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, an English descriptive audio track, and an audio commentary track. Even though the DTS-HD MA audio is only 16-bit as opposed to 24-bit, it's an incredibly satisfying track which is crystal clear and free of any noticeable encoding shortcomings. Five Feet Apart is heavy on the dialogue, and luckily every single line is perfectly comprehensible, with spot-on prioritisation amid the music and sound effects. Additionally, the audio never sounds compromised or tinny; it's always impactful and features perfect clarity. The track is understandably front-centred, though the track does extend to the rear channels, with the surround activity primarily reserved for environmental ambience and music. I didn't notice much in the way of panning or separation, but then again the occasion rarely calls for it. I can't imagine many audiophiles yearning for an Atmos remix for this one, and I can't imagine such a remix would actually be worthwhile. Free of any encoding anomalies such as popping or drop-outs, Five Feet Apart sounds great on Blu-ray.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
Not exactly an exhaustive extras package, and there is repetition and overlap, but this is still a fine collection of special features, bolstered by a terrific director's commentary. The main menu is nicely themed as opposed to static, containing music and imagery from the film.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 8:03) I counted five deleted scenes here. The material contains some appreciable additional character beats (including a particularly great scene with the underrated, always reliable Claire Forlani), but it is easy to see why these were trimmed. These scenes aren't separated with chapter stops, and there's no individual scene selection - this just plays in one large chunk, without even titles to break up the scenes.
Alternate Ending (HD; 2:01) Baldoni discusses this alternate ending in the commentary track, and it's understandable why this extended coda was removed from the final cut, but it is a nice addition to the disc that fans should definitely check out.
Crossing It Off: Making Five Feet Apart (HD; 14:14) Although relatively brief, here we have a slick, well-edited featurette about the making of the movie which briskly covers the script, casting, direction, production design, and more. Several members of the cast and crew are interviewed here, and there is plenty of behind-the-scenes footage which gives us a glimpse at the hospital set, as well as the extent of the blue screen and other moviemaking tricks (including blowing fake snow into shot) to create an authentic sense of time and place.
On the Set of Five Feet Apart (HD; 6:28) As implied by the title, this is a six-minute selection of raw on-set footage, encompassing tomfoolery between takes, Baldoni directing the actors, some brief interview snippets, shots being filmed, and more. It's all set to gentle music from the movie's soundtrack. Regrettably, there is a fair bit of noticeable overlap with the previous featurette, but this is still a worthwhile inclusion to the disc.
Attention to Detail (HD; 5:54) This extra is all about the movie's attention to detail towards cystic fibrosis. People with CF were involved in the movie at all stages of production and were able to advise, ensuring that the end result feels real and gets it right.
An Artist's Eye (HD; 6:00) An EPK-style featurette with on-set footage and interviews, this focuses on Will's trademark predilection for drawing cartoons. The artwork seen in the film was drawn by New Orleans artist Caesar Meadows, who also gets the opportunity to speak of his love for drawing. Baldoni also speaks about the different style of drawings seen at the end of the film.
Theatrical Fan Event (HD; 18:51) Prefaced with a video introduction by director Baldoni, this is a collection of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews which was ostensibly played on the big screen during a theatrical fan event. As ever, there's overlap with the previous making of featurettes, but there's still some new material, such as Richardson talking about filming the YouTube videos. I'm just not sure why there had to be so many additional featurettes which overlap with one another. This also ends with a music video for "Don't Give Up On Me" by Andy Grammer.
Audio Commentary with Director Justin Baldoni Director Baldoni flies solo for this predominantly scene-specific audio commentary track which is a terrific supplement to the disc's behind-the-scenes video extras. Since this is Baldoni's debut feature as a director, he comes in enthusiastically and has a lot of interesting information to impart about the production. Topics include CGI, filming logistics (the movie was shot over twenty days in a real New Orleans hospital), the actors, the characters, the cinematography, shooting the FaceTime conversations, and more. Shooting the outside scenes is also covered, including the cinematographic choices and the ample use of blue screen. Time constraints during shooting are also touched upon, with one major scene towards the end filmed in an hour and a half. He often points out the true-life aspects of the film, from the CF treatments (the Afflovest, for instance) to scenarios that were based on real occurrences (Will letting his friends borrow his hospital room to have sex). Baldoni understandably gushes over several scenes, though his enthusiasm occasionally leads to outright exaggeration (saying that one scene is more intimate than "any other movie sex scene" is a bit much). He also likes to point out a lot of the symbolism and thematic undercurrents. I enjoyed listening to this commentary track, which is a recommended listen for fans.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
The Region A Lionsgate Blu-ray contains exactly the same extras, while only adding Spanish language options. It's likely that the Roadshow release has the superior video encode. Therefore, I'm calling this one a draw. Buy local.
Five Feet Apart falls short of perfection, but it's nevertheless a technically competent and pleasing tear-jerking romance that you won't regret watching. It's just a shame that the third act grows so maddening.
Roadshow delivers the movie on Blu-ray with a sublime technical presentation; the 1080p encode is fantastic, while the 5.1 audio track is hugely effective. Add in a satisfying selection of bonus material, and this is a recommended purchase for fans.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, August 31, 2019
|DVD||Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|