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Our Favorite Tragic Romances

March 15th, 2019Our Favorite Tragic Romances

Despite being forbidden to come within less than a few feet of each other, two hospitalized teenagers fall in love in the tragic teen romance FIVE FEET APART, coming to AMC on March 15.

The film puts its own unique stamp on a long line of our favorite movies. The “tragic romance” genre has produced classics old and new, and we are always moved by films that combine love and heartbreak into one whopper of a tearjerker. Here’s more about FIVE FEET APART and five of the best films that inspired it.

The Reality Behind Five Feet Apart

In FIVE FEET APART, Haley Lu Richardson (EDGE OF SEVENTEEN) and Cole Sprouse (“Riverdale”) star as cystic fibrosis patients whose budding romance is immensely complicated by their disease. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and other organs, so those with CF are particularly susceptible to a number of lung infections. Even the flu is very dangerous to a CF patient. So, there’s a great risk of cross-infection between two people who both share the disorder. In real life, the “six-foot rule” keeps enough distance to prevent such infections from occurring.

Cystic fibrosis is already a particularly difficult condition to live with, and there is no known cure — so, what happens when two young patients fall in love? They can’t ever have the connection that a typical couple enjoys. The film explores all of the alternate ways these two teens find to develop their bond as they struggle with the challenges of life with CF.

Here are five other tragic romances that laid a path that brings us to FIVE FEET APART.

Love Story

You’d think a rich heir attending Harvard would have little in common with working-class Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw). Yet, when Jenny meets Oliver Barrett (Ryan O’Neal), the two quickly fall in love. Oliver’s father threatens to eliminate all financial support if they marry. Which will win out, love or money? It’s a moot point, perhaps, as Jenny learns that she’s terminally ill.

LOVE STORY remains one of the top 40 highest-selling movies of all time, if adjusting for ticket price inflation — and that’s for all genres, not just romances. Think of how many of the biggest superhero movies and blow-‘em-up blockbusters this lower-budgeted film has beat out through the decades.

Romeo + Juliet

The phrase “Romeo and Juliet” has become a shorthand for “doomed lovers” in the English language — or really, for anything doomed at all. This 1996 adaptation of the William Shakespeare classic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the young lovers from the rival Montague and Capulet families.

Although the characters maintained the Elizabethan-era dialogue from Shakespeare’s original play, director Baz Luhrmann (MOULIN ROUGE!) updated the setting to contemporary America — clothing, technology, music, weapons and all. What resulted was an unusual hybrid unlike anything audiences had seen before.

The Fault in Our Stars

Few people can find “fault” with Josh Boone’s teen weepie. Based on the novel by John Green, this hit centers on two teenagers: Hazel Grace Lancaster (played by Shailene Woodley of the DIVERGENT series) and Augustus Waters (BABY DRIVER’s Ansel Elgort), who meet at a support group for cancer patients.

The film debuted atop the box office in summer 2014, with a $48 million opening weekend, and earned $124.8 million total. The film’s popularity helped develop an audience for additional adaptations of Green’s work, including PAPER TOWNS (with Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff) and the upcoming miniseries “Looking for Alaska.”

Me Before You

“Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke ditched her dragons for Thea Sharrock’s ME BEFORE YOU, in which she plays Louisa Clark, a recently jobless young woman hired to assist the paraplegic Will Traynor (Sam Claflin of THE HUNGER GAMES). Will, formerly a happy and outgoing young man, has become surly, despondent and depressed ever since his injury. Little by little, Louisa’s buoyancy begins to turn his dejection around. Naturally, they also begin feel something for each other.

There’s one complication: Will had already made plans to proceed with medically assisted suicide in Switzerland, where the practice is legal. Is he fated to go through with it, now that Louisa is in his life? Watch the movie — which was a surprise hit to the tune of $208 million worldwide when it came out in 2016 — to find out.


The story of third-class passenger Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and first-class Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) aboard the doomed passenger ship Titanic enchanted audiences worldwide. The film won Best Picture and Best Director for James Cameron at the Academy Awards® and produced an iconic, No. 1-charting song with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”

TITANIC became one of the biggest movies of all time at the box office, earning $600.7 million domestically and $2.18 billion globally. The latter is a mark only beaten by one other film in the 21 years since: AVATAR, also by Cameron. As it depicted a love that was never meant to be, on the voyage that never should have been, TITANIC was the movie that could do no wrong.

FIVE FEET APART opens on March 15.

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