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Movie Review: Think twice before seeing ‘After’

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Jaycie Thierry
Social Media Editor 

The movie adaptation of Anna Todd’s bestselling novel “After” hit theaters Friday, but the film, unsurprisingly, failed at doing the book justice, leaving me disappointed.

“After” follows Tessa Young, played by Josephine Langford, the wide-eyed good girl heading into her freshman year of college. 

She quickly becomes acquainted with the mysterious British bad boy Hardin Scott, played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.

Tessa’s life is shown through a timeline of what life was like before Hardin and what it is like after.

As the film began, Tessa’s voice echoes throughout the theater, “There are moments in our lives that seem to define us.” 

As cliché as the story already sounds, it is just that – cliché.

Transitioning the characters and storyline into a film was a valiant effort by director Jenny Gage, but as someone who previously read Todd’s novel when it was an original online release, it fell short.

The two-minute long trailer was much more exhilarating than the film itself.

“After” could be compared to “Twilight,” and could even be viewed as a teenage, underdeveloped “50 Shades of Grey.”

Tessa is given an obvious warning that Hardin is “complicated,” but is still drawn to him; completely ignoring that his persona screams, “I have feelings underneath this hardened exterior but I use my daddy issues as an excuse to be disconnected.”

Fiennes-Tiffin’s character rarely says more than five words at a time in a single sentence.

For someone who loves to read romantic literature but does not believe in love, you would think Hardin could utilize that expansive vocabulary a bit more.

The film speeds through themes and scenes that could have potentially had more depth and development, but just when you think it could maybe pack a punch, “After” continues to only just scratch the surface.

“After” is the kind of mind-numbing and cliche romantic drama I would have lived for at 14 years old, and in fact did. It was originally published back in 2013 as a One Direction fan-fiction on Wattpad, a social storytelling platform. 

By 2014, the book and the others that followed it in the “After” series were published to hard copy and sold in stores.

Since then, the novel has racked up over a billion online reads and has become a worldwide phenomenon.

Although the film leaves potential for a follow up sequel, this is not the first time a Wattpad story has been made into a movie, and it most likely will not be the last. 

The buzz was all about Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth” with Joey King leading the cast just last May, yet originally the storyline came from Beth Reekles who, at just 15 years old, had published the story online in 2013.

If this is the direction the film industry and streaming services are moving toward, we cannot keep wondering why young girls are attracted to the idea of a bad boy, when genres like these only fuel a toxic cycle.

Jaycie Thierry can be reached at jaycie.thierry@laverne.edu.

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