“After”; Director: Jenny Gage; Cast: Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Inanna Sarkis, Samuel Larsen, Dylan Arnold, Swen Temmel, Meadow Williams, Selma Blair, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Beals; Rating: **
Director Jenny Gage’s “After” is based on the romance, fan-fiction novel of the same name, written by Anna Todd. It is an innocuous teen pulp that unfolds more like an aspiring writer’s checklist of narrative influences of first romance than a fleshed out story on love. Clocking in over 105 minutes the film is mild, safe and very low on surprises, in other words, it is predictable.
There are moments in life that seem to define us. And, “After”, is the story of Tessa Young (Josephine Langford), a good, obedient girl, who has everything (direction, ambition and a charming boyfriend Noah) going for her. It’s only after she has barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into the moody Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) a complex and “complicated” guy, who is even rude to the point of cruelty, woos her that she finds her defining moments. How they fall in love forms the crux of the romance.
For him, it is only after he challenges his friends in a game of truth and dare that he falls in love with Tessa. So there was the time before they met and then there’s everything “After.” Life for the duo will never be the same.
The plot feels starved of conflict, suspense and a little heart, as the narrative seems to be a repackaged version of a formula that is already flogged to death. But, if you are a die-hard romantic, it is the performances of the lead pair that keep you hooked.
While Hero Fiennes-Tiffin as the cocky Hardin is impressive, Josephine Langford as the naive Tessa is beautiful and charming. They both have strong, inter-personal chemistry and their romance on-screen is palpable.
They are aptly supported by; Dylan Arnold as Noah, Selma Blair as Tessa’s mom Carol Young, Shane Paul McGhie as Hardin’s half-brother Landon Gibson, Khadijha Red Thunder as Tessa’s roommate Steph Jones, and Samuel Larsen, Swen Temmel, Inanna Sarkis, Petter Gallagher as the duo’s college mates. Each one of them have their moment of onscreen glory.
Technically, the film is well-presented. Tom Betterton and Adam Silver’s cinematography is standard but attractive as their frames capture the locales in all its glory. There are also some erotic scenes that are aesthetically shot.
Overall, “After”, is perfect date film to watch from ones’ own couch.