"After Everything" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Without a doubt, the After franchise is extremely disappointing and unbearable to sit through. Most of the movies just feature horrendous acting performances, which are then unfortunately complimented by dull plots where nothing really happens. The book series ended with the previous installment, "After Ever Happy", with the studio deciding to make one more film, simply as a cash-grab of sorts. However, very surprisingly, this film that should have never been made turned into perhaps the best entry in the franchise, a film that really lets Hero Fiennes Tiffin shine as the star.
The predecessor to this film showed Hardin (Fiennes Tiffin) and Tessa (Josephine Langford) go their separate ways, deciding that their lives were simply not meant to intertwine. But, now that she is really gone and Hardin is now a world-famous novelist, he is having a very hard time trying to move on from the girl he considers the one love of his life. Due to this, he has started to drink more and more, as well as not focusing his time on writing his second novel for the publisher he is with. His mom (Louise Lombard) and dad (Stephen Moyer) convince him to get out of England for a while, to go somewhere else where he can try to channel his inner writer to complete his second book.
Hardin takes their advice and travels to Portugal, where he discovers that Natalie (Mimi Keene), a former flame he did wrong, lives there. Now trying to wrestle with his feelings for Tessa, as well as trying to convince Natalie to forgive him, Hardin must look deep in his soul to find what he truly wants to be as a person.
If you have read my reviews for the prior films in the franchise, it is no secret I really don't like these movies. Sure, they may appeal and be beloved by the audience they are made for, but from my standpoint as a film critic, they simply don't hit the mark here. They are messy, boring, horribly-acted, and shouldn't even be considered part of cinema's history. However, now we have the final entry in the franchise, and dare I say I sort of enjoyed it?
I'm not exactly sure what it is, but there is something about this film that just sort of works in a way. It seems like the filmmakers actually listened to the criticisms being hurled their way, and tried to improve them in this last film. This movie actually had a plot and events that helped carry the story along, rather than having two sex-obsessed twenty-somethings fight and then make up for it by having hot and sweaty sex. That's truly not enjoyable entertainment (unless you are seriously obsessed with sex). But this movie on the other hand, it seems concerned with telling a story that not only shows character progression for this fan-favorite character, but wants to wrap up the story in a satisfying way.
One thing I definitely did not expect was how enjoyable Fiennes Tiffin was in his last outing as the brooding character of Hardin. I have mentioned multiple times I absolutely hate his performances as the character, even though I feel like he has the potential to be a good actor. I don't even think it is his fault for his earlier performances, and I truly think the direction and the screenplay let him down. But for this one, he is the star and the film really lets him shine. I mean, I found myself thoroughly enjoying his performance and wishing this is how all of the other films were. Fans are upset due to the lack of Langford throughout this film, but a huge part of me wonders if the films would have been a lot better if it was just one of them. If the films were centered around just Hardin or just Tessa, these movies could have easily been a lot better, in my opinion. Consider this movie, for example.
I also really liked the character of Natalie, and I think Keene gives a great performance as her. She really sells the character and is able to deliver a multi-layered character study due to how she was treated by Hardin in the past. Honestly, a major part of me liked her more than I liked Tessa in the other films, and I wish the filmmakers went down the route of her ending up with Hardin. In terms of the other characters, such as Sebastian (Benjamin Mascolo), are very two-dimensional, and don't really reach the standards that they needed to to be compelling characters or antagonists.
The setting is also very enjoyable to watch and be in for an hour and a half, which totally flips the series upside down on its head. The prior films felt very much like TV movies due to the setting and the way they were shot, but this film actually feels like a movie you would go see in the theaters. It seems like they actually tried to make a good and compelling film, and the hard work is definitely felt from beginning to end.
The one thing I simply did hate about this movie, however, is the ending. It all seems very rushed, and very out-of-character for those involved. It seems like the filmmakers set up this whole new world and set of characters Hardin can find himself in, but then resort back to the old ways of this franchise to just give the audience a very quick and satisfying ending. Sure, it's satisfying, but in what way did the characters ever deserve an ending like this that was so quick and rushed?
This is definitely far from a great film, but for what it is, I applaud the filmmakers for actually trying to make a satisfying ending that is much better than the other films. This is easily the best film in the franchise, and I think it shows the start of what Fiennes Tiffin is capable of as an actor, and I honestly am excited to see what he does next in his career.