"After Ever Happy" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Here we are - the film adaptation of the final novel in Anna Todd's widely popular "After" franchise. The franchise has definitely had its issues and a multitude of problems, but it seems like the fans of the global bestselling series stuck around to the very end. While it is noble of them to stick with a story and characters they have read about for years before the films, the movie simply doesn't do what it needs to to redeem itself and actually present a decent romance story. The story is dry and boring, the acting is abysmal at times, and it just feels like this movie didn't accomplish anything from beginning to end.
The film picks up right where its predecessor left off, with Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) learning the true story of his parentage. Now frustrated with himself and his parents, he goes down a self-destructive path, not sure where to go next. For Tessa (Josephine Langford) however, she is starting to find herself becoming tired of the same old routine her and Hardin go through, forcing her to consider other options with her life, some that may not involve Hardin at all even though they have been through so much together.
If anything, this film is an improvement over "After We Fell", which just felt like a gigantic cash grab where nothing really happens. The film was a giant bore, with the story not really focusing on too many important elements and mixed with acting that was borderline horrendous. This time around, the filmmakers actually include important plot lines from the books, including a death from an accidental overdose and including the time jump that finds our character in two very different places. Now here's the thing - they took details from the last two books and tried to cram them in an hour and a half runtime. An important character literally dies, and then everything is fine about ten minutes later. The movie, which is evident throughout the other movies in the franchise, lacks the heart and human connection it needs to succeed. I mean, if you look at every film in this series, you will notice they use pop songs to convey the character's emotions rather than actually having the actors express those feelings on the screen.
In terms of the acting, I would say it's an improvement over the last film, but still isn't very good. I mentioned before how I think this is the fault of the director not knowing how to utilize the actors' strengths. Almost every performance here is very cringe-inducing, and doesn't sell the story or characters at all. In fact, as a viewer, it makes me hate the characters, finding them very annoying and not empathic at all. Even though the characters do some not-so-good things and possess traits that try to demonstrate flawed characters, I find it hard to become attached to the characters and their relationship.
I would say when the film hits the time jump about twenty minutes before the credits, it does pick up a little bit. It's interesting to see how these characters have changed and evolved over that time apart, and I am actually impressed the film was even able to show some character growth - it is perhaps the first time this has happened in the entire series. However, this part is very rushed and puts the characters in a very unsatisfying position.
The film concludes on a cliffhanger, promising to be concluded with a finale that will not be based on any of the source material from author Anna Todd. I think it will be interesting to see where they take the franchise and characters now that they don't have to follow a set plot, but I honestly don't have high hopes for the final installment of the series. The sad thing about it is that it should have had the potential to be an at-least decent series for teenagers, and it simply can't do that. This entire series up to this point is very disappointing, and I'm not sure what went wrong.