Opening 11 Apr 2019
The film begins with “There are moments which shape us, which we never forget.” Thus, we already have an inkling of the universal theme, which has a limited capacity for surprises. The title with the word “After” erases away any last doubts. It’s all over; we are looking back. Now we can watch a story unfold which we can already predict. Tessa (Josephine Langford) says good-bye to her boyfriend Noah (Dylan Arnold), and she and her mother Carol (Selma Blair) drive away to enroll Tessa for her first year of college. She checks into her dorm room; her roommate Steph (Khadijha Red Thunder) is a surprise: long hair dyed red, piercing, tattoos, hippie style clothes. She is the exact opposite of conservative, small-town Tessa, and, with a crew of friends, undertakes to show her the real world of parties, drinking and sex. Tessa meets Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin); they date; their affair develops into “love.” That’s it. Luckily there are some small events which pep up the familiar plot. Another student Landon (Shane Paul McGhie) warns Tessa of Hardin’s problems. Strangely, there is a wedding between Hardin’s father (who is the director of the university) and Landon’s mother, making the two boys half-brothers. Tessa’s mother Carol is not amused that Tessa wastes time on a boy, ignoring her studies, and therefore cuts the money supply. Hardin solves that problem by moving both of them into a temporarily abandoned apartment.
Perhaps young people will enjoy this innocent love story. Anyone experienced will find it too 1950s, a fairy tale. The most satisfactory enjoyment is the chance to observe new, young actors, whom we will surely see more often in the future. It was based on the book by Anna Todd, which she originally began writing on her smartphone online under Wattpad. Her idea of Hardin was based on British musician Harry Styles, who helped form the band One Direction. Hero Fiennes Tiffin was chosen for the role partly “because he was British,” which makes me regret that I saw it in German, which prevented a difference of accents to make him stand out. Director Jenny Gage could benefit from her connections to the fashion trade, where Red Thunder, as well as Fiennes Triffin were successful models. Accomplished actors Jennifer Beals and Peter Gallagher showed up in bit parts. Filmed at Emory University, the Houward House and neighborhoods, including Stone Mountain Park, all in and around, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Luckily, the 22 pop songs help us forget the boring bling, bling music which underlies scenes which would have been better without music. (Becky Tan)