An Honest Review Of 'After'

The film is based on a One Direction fanfiction!
PHOTO: After/Aviron Pictures

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Sheltered good girl Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) leaves her home for college, where she gets exposed to parties, drinking, drugs, and sex. She meets Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin), a bad boy with a surprising affinity for classic literature. The unlikely pair develop a relationship despite Tessa having a boyfriend back at home and their friends being against it. As their attraction to each other gets deeper, a secret is revealed, making Tessa question if everything that happened to both of them was real.

The Short, Honest Plot

Have you ever been in a relationship that was so wrong, but felt so right? The classic cliches of "you and me against the world" and "against all odds" make up this film.

The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them

Josephine Langford as Tessa Young

Josephine Langford starred in the horror film Wish Upon (2017). She also appeared in two episodes of the Australian anthology series Wolf Creek (2016) and is set to appear in an episode of Hulu's Into The Dark (2018).

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Hero Fiennes-Tiffin as Hardin Scott

Hero Fiennes-Tiffin is part of the British television series Cleaning Up (2019) on ITV, and Safe (2018) on Netflix. He might also look familiar to Harry Potter fans! He is best known for playing the 11-year-old Tom Riddle in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009).

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Dylan Arnold as Noah

Dylan Arnold took part in the film Halloween (2018) and in eight episodes of the TV series Nashville (2018).

Selma Blair as Carol Young

We last saw Selma Blair in Mom And Dad (2017). She also starred in the TV series The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (2016) and the film Mother's Day (2016).

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Khadijha Red Thunder as Steph Jones

Khadijha Red Thunder appeared in Kygo Feat. Valerie Broussard: Think About You (2019), The Sun Is Also A Star (2019), and Every Day (2018).

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Did You Know?

1. After is an adaptation of a Wattpad series of the same title and written by Anna Todd (Imaginator1D). It is a fanfiction based on the British boyband One DirectionThe male protagonist was originally called Harry Styles and the rest of the supporting male characters are named after Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan. They had to change the names for legal reasons but kept the boys' initials.

2. Anna Todd makes a cameo in the film! Keep your eyes peeled for a woman walking out of the Vance Publishing office.

3. Picked by Anna Todd herself, Julia Goldani Telles was originally supposed to play the role of Tessa Young because Anna loved Julia's chemistry with Hero. But in July 2018, Julia announced her exit from the film due to scheduling conflicts. Josephine Langford, also chosen by Anna, took over the role.

5. The novel Wuthering Heights plays an important role in the film. The book that was used as a prop was the same book Anna Todd owned since she was in high school. Coincidentally, Ralph Fiennes, who plays Hero's uncle, starred as Heathcliff in the Wuthering Heights film adaptation in 1992.

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What I Think:

Ever since I was in high school, I would always say I will marry Harry Styles someday. I was one of those girls who created another Twitter account solely for fangirling over the curly Hazza, and cried while watching their video diaries, performances, and made-up game shows like Megamind and Spin The Harry. So my excitement was indescribable when I heard that there was a film adaptation of a Harry Styles fanfiction! I don't know how else to sum it up, 'cause words ain't good enough—only Directioners can relate. *wink wink*

But when I saw the film, I couldn't help but notice that Hero's charm is nowhere near Harry's. Hero is charming in his own way, but I didn't feel drawn to him, and I didn't see a reason to root for his character. I was wondering why they didn't cast Harry Styles himself, because the guy can act! I mean, have you seen Dunkirk (2017)? The film would have taken given us a different kind of feel, especially because it's based on a Harry fanfiction. What I liked about Hardin's character though is the fact that he's not your regular bad boy: He is deep, reads the classics, and has a backstory that made me understand why he behaves that way.

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On the other hand, I liked Josephine's rawness and relatability. She really gives me the innocent freshman realness, who gets exposed to the "evils" of the college life.  She made me feel that Tessa's hardships could be experienced by anyone, which makes it more painful and understandable. Growing up within the confines of her overprotective mother, college is her opportunity to explore the life she has been missing out. And what's harder to accept is even if she's already away from her home, it still feels like her mom is watching her like a hawk.

Although this film is full of sex, drugs, and booze, I noticed that consent is still valued. One of my favorite scenes is when virginal Tessa says "I want you" to Hardin, and he doesn't see it as an opportunity to take advantage of her. Instead, he asks, "Are you sure?" This implies that he really values Tessa and doesn't want her to be pressured to have sex. And knowing that this is Tessa's first time, he again asks, "Do you want me to stop?" telling us that he prioritizes her pleasure over his.

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I just wish we knew the timeline of the story because it seems like everything is happening so fast. In one scene, we see the characters irritated at each other, and in the next, we see them completely smitten with each other. I had a lot of questions while watching because it feels like the film is a puzzle that has missing parts. The cinematography is gorgeous, though. There were some shots that made me go, "wow." The film's soundtrack, too, is going to be my favorite Spotify playlist for weeks. 

After's plot is quite a cliche and predictable. The good-girl-falls-for-the-bad-guy is a trope we have seen a lot of times already, but thanks to how the characters are written, this one feels kinda different. It is also Tessa's sexual awakening, Hardin's courage to let out his bottled up feelings, and Carol's (Tessa's mom) realization that her daughter is a person of her own.

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There was a line from the film that really made an impact on me. "That's the point, isn't it? We change, and we discover who we are." We aren't stagnant people, and our lives aren't either. Every day, we encounter something or someone that could change us drastically. It doesn't even matter if it's for the good or the bad, because either way, we pick up life lessons that could lead us to discover the best versions of ourselves.

What My Friend Thinks:

"Imagine my excitement when I heard about a fanfiction-turned-movie—especially a Harry Styles fanfiction! My 1D fangirl heart is alive again! However, I did not expect much because I feel like the story is made for the book's fans. The movie delivers a predictable storyline and fell thinly on the writing as it did not expand on the characters' decisionswhich is a shame because the actors so charismatically performed their roles. What caught my attention though is how beautifully the scenes were captured through the cinematography. The coloring of the film was made to exude the youthfulness of both the characters and its targeted audience. The soundtrack also wonderfully set the scenesthere were even some points that I found myself wishing those sweet, romantic sequences happened to me just because I was moved by the music. Overall, I would say it's fun to see After, maybe on a nice day out with my girlfriends so that we can swoon over dreamy boys like Hardin." Seniña

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I'd Recommend It To:

Directioners, especially the Harry girls, should see this film! It may not necessarily depict Harry's personality and aesthetic, but it's interesting to see how it turns out. 

Of course, I'd recommend it to those who have read the Wattpad series to see how the characters jump from page to screen.

Lastly, I'd recommend it to people who are dying to get out of their comfort zones, and those who want to welcome change in their lives but are afraid to do so. Who knows? This might be the sign you've been waiting for! 

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