“It’s complicated,” I’d say if there was a status that summed up my relationship with the After flicks. After We Fell, I am well aware that I am not the target audience for such films, and I am as startled as you are that a third film has been granted (with a fourth on the way) and that I am here reviewing it.
After We Fell Review
After We Fell, I’m doing it because I want to, not because I have to — there was no media screening provided – but because I want to.
The first After (2019) was a film that I despised. I understand it was aimed at the teen market in the hopes of becoming a more accessible Fifty Shades of Grey, but it was so painfully vanilla and flippant in its portrayal of a poisonous relationship that I couldn’t even enjoy it on a “so awful it’s good” level.
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After We Collided followed a year later. The sequel increased the sex quota, creating a near-erotic, curse-heavy melodrama that, while not perfect, scored big enjoyment points.
I was invested against my better judgement, so when After We Fell came out, it was only right that I see what more difficult, irritating, yell-at-the-screen crap Tessa (Josephine Langford) and Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) were navigating.
I say supposedly because, as much as these two characters – who are very much modelled after Edward and Bella/Christian and Anastasia – say and do all the things that suggest romantic inclinations, they’re so obviously wrong for each other that it’s hard to believe no one has taken them aside and pointed out that a vigorous sex life does not equal a healthy relationship.
But, since we wouldn’t have a movie if these characters didn’t make good choices, the Sharon Soboill script begins up not long after the previous film’s conclusion, when Tessa has been reunited with her estranged father – perhaps one of the film’s most bizarre revelations — Hardin’s jealousy over her intention to move to Seattle for work – where she’ll be buddying with a handsome co-worker (a whole source of contention in the previous film) – and her blossoming friendship with a local waiter is, as usual, a rollercoaster of emotions; and her relationship with Hardin (who author Anna Todd based around former One Direction member, now queer icon Harry Styles) is, as usual, a rollercoaster of emotions. Hardin is permitted to have female friends, but his girlfriend is not allowed to have a platonic relationship with a guy.
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There isn’t much of a major plot in After We Fell beyond Tessa and Hardin’s connection, if that wasn’t clear before. Events do happen, but it’s mostly so the two may argue over them, have sex, or, more often than not, a combination of the both.
It eventually gets old watching these two tango when we all know they should be dancing with other, healthier individuals. Soboill’s script appears to be so bent on hitting so many different narrative elements that she ends up doing so little, failing to progress these characters beyond their belittling caricatures.
There is escapism fun to be had here, but only if you’re willing to thoroughly punch holes in the tale and accept the awfulness of the characters and their traits as an audience member.
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It’s difficult to criticise Langford and Fiennes-Tiffin because they’re dealing with horrible speech (she’s better at delivering it than he is), but they may be taking the subject far more seriously than it needs to be.
If they had gone all out with the overblown melodrama, the movie would have been more of a joke on itself than a product that we laugh at with wicked enjoyment.
While the majority of After We Fell is a back-and-forth of irritated exchanges between Tessa and Hardin, the closing 30 minutes are such a frenzy of exposition that we can forgive the film for being about nothing.
The picture suddenly becomes about something, everything, and the dynamic in play for the following episode (the obnoxiously titled After Ever Happy) is so delightfully trashy that it only seems sense that it should be packaged in such a dreadful title.