“Isn’t nice another word for boring?”
This is Harding played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin asking Tessa (Josephine Langford), while they swim in a brook, what a high school boy does to deserve a girl like Tessa and she said he is nice.
In one line, “After” is a movie about a girl who goes to the university, meets a dashing, flashy, weird boy and falls for him. The plot is a lot fuller than this, but as a summary, this can serve. And if you think you have heard or seen this somewhere, give and take its one or two twists, you probably have.
“After” is a movie directed by Jenny Gage and produced by Jennifer Gibgot. It is based on the novel of the same name by Anna Todd. It was released in April 2019 by Aviron Pictures in April 2009 and made 69.5 million dollars in the box office off a budget of 14 million. Figures don’t lie which means the movie is good, or at least good enough. It is, but that is just a leg in the tripod on which the film was cooked. We go.
After Movie Review – the good
“After” Movie has a plethora of pretty people. The tall, the gorgeous, the blonde, and the smoking hot. If you love reading or used to (like yours sincerely), you will enjoy all those references to Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”, Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Apart from “Pride and Prejudice”, I didn’t enjoy the novels but when I heard them being discussed in the film, I relaxed deeper into the seat and put a smug smile on my face – I am an intellectual.
What other good thing is there in the film? I will have to watch the film, again and again, to find out. Or I may not as the thought of sitting through it again doesn’t give me much joy.
After Movie Review – the bad
The pacing of “After” is one of its major weaknesses. The actual pace of the film is slow but the plot was on a strong foot. One moment Tessa meets a rude Harding, the next they are arguing in class and she sees him for the brute he is, then she is following him to the brook in the woods and kissing him. The film just couldn’t wait to take us to the main story – and it wasn’t a normal taking to, it was jumping. Then the film stood still. After Tessa breaks up with her high school sweetheart and best friend Noah, “After” just stood there. The story tried to move. There was that time they refused to leave the library at lights-out and have the breathless library security chase them, there was that time the mother barged in on her kissing Harding in her room and cut her off because she decided to break up with Harding.
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This latter scene is an example of how the film failed woefully in its emotional aspect. Here is a single mother disowning her only child just like that and the child doesn’t feel anything, the mother doesn’t feel anything, and the reader just watches, without an iota of emotion. Even when Tessa was mourning Noah, there was no connection with the viewer. There was no sympathy for her nor Noah whom she cheated on.
The movie was just emotionless and it didn’t. If this was a movie about AI, superviruses, espionage, fights, we would shrug and take consolation from the thrilling drama. This one is supposed to be a movie about romance and served on the platter of the ability to connect with the viewer emotionally. It failed. Everything panned out without charge. There was a certain lack of energy, a certain lack of passion, a sort of putting on an act about the movie that cost it valuable points.
We have seen all this before. While watching this, the movie took me back to 2005 in the Columbia Picture production Hitch starring Will Smith. Will Smith is a date doctor who helps connect men who are legitly in love with the woman of their dream. There is this Sara Melas played by Eva Mendes who puts her life on hold as she takes on the world of men who hurt women. End of the story, Will Smith and Eva Mendes ended up in love. As soon as I saw arrogant Harding in Tessa’s room, I knew they were going to end up together.
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But unlike “After”, the movie “Hitch” has a strong subplot, is funny, and is delivered with passion. When Tessa discovered that it was all a lie, the foundation of Harding’s love for her, she was heartbroken and left. But there is no one watching the film who didn’t know that the two birds would be back together. And the way he did it, writing an essay to her bordered on the ridiculous. Not border is ridiculous. This one, thanks to the makers of this film wasn’t predictable.
This movie didn’t do it for me. It is what they say, a movie to eat popcorn with but it is not a movie where you drop your troubles at the door and forget your worries. This movie doesn’t have that kind of power. There is an African proverb from the Igbos of South-East Nigeria which states that a woman cannot put more than the length of her leg on her husband – this movie tried its best but it just couldn’t do more than its bandwidth.
Image source: Rober Ebert