REVIEW: ‘After’ is a romantic drama disaster

I’m convinced the makers of this movie have never been to college.

So, upon some digging, it turns out “After” is based off a novel, which originally started as a fanfiction about the band One Direction on the website Wattpad. I’m not making this up.

In that case, what can one expect from the story? Well, it follows Tessa (Josephine Langford), a young woman who’s just starting her college career at Some Random University as a freshman. Tessa is what one could call a goodie-two-shoes, as she plays by the rules, is a book-worm and never seems to get into trouble.

However, there’s a chance that will change when she starts attending. See, her new roommate does things like drink and hangout with friends that attend parties. The horror. In the first act Tessa goes along with her roommate to a party and meets Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), a British guy who wears ripped jeans, a leather jacket, is well-read and is too cool to do anything but brood. You guessed it, he’s the love interest.

So, naturally, Tessa and Hardin first meet and she doesn’t really like him at first. However, after some rather creepy scenes of seduction, the two, I guess, hit it off?

This story that’s supposed to take place in college comes off more like a high school drama. So many of the characters here get riled up over petty matters that might be important to high schoolers, but most college age students would brush it off.

Kid you not, there’s a twist in the third act where it’s learned part of the plot was based on a game of Truth or Dare. Seriously, it came off like the story in “She’s All That” from the 90s.

It doesn’t help that almost all of the dialogue featured in the picture is unconvincing. Nobody talks like this. Every time there’s a conversation between characters, none of it feels real. Hell, “Pitch Perfect” portrayed college students more accurately than this.

What really sinks this flick, though, are the horrendous characters. Tessa is supposed to be this super good person yet she already has a boyfriend when she gets to college and it only takes a short while before she cheats on him with Hardin. She doesn’t have much of a personality, either, as she just seems to coast in her relationship with Hardin.

Then there’s Hardin himself. The guy is such a generic mysterious bad boy character that he comes across as wooden for most of the picture. Like Tessa, Hardin lacks any personality or charisma, doing nothing but spouting off lines about books he’s read and why he’s so fascinated with this girl.

This isn’t to pile on the actors, though. They did what they could here, but were terribly constrained by an awful script.

Some of my favorite films in the romance genre are those in the “Before” trilogy, including “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.” Those movies are so lovable because they’re realistic, and the characters are portrayed as average people with their own quirks, charms and personality. Most romantic movies at least have these types of characters, too. It’s never the case here, the characters feel so damn shallow from start to finish.

Outside of the romance between these two, there’s not much else going on. The rest of the characters are one-note, the movie goes on too long and there are way, way too many sappy pop songs shoved in at every damn opportunity that it wears on a person’s nerves.

This is soap opera level trash and it’s a contender for worst of 2019. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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