Film rendition of popular fanfiction fails to meet expectations

Claire Lawrence, Staff Reporter

Months ago, it was announced by author Anna Todd that one of her fanfiction series would have the opportunity to take the big screen and convey a dramatic and thrilling college love story to more than just the legions of 13-year-old girls reading under their covers. “After” is a romance novel that was first published on Wattpad, an internet community where people can both read and write stories, including genres like fantasy and syfy, and is a Harry Styles fanfiction (yes, you heard me) turned cliché. The director behind the madness of this film is Jenny Gage, and Todd produced it  herself. The film’s main stars are two b-list actors, Josephine Langford (Tessa Young) and Hero Fiennes Tiffin (Hardin Scott), and twists expectations when it comes to the classic meet-cute relationships.

“After” tells the story of college freshmen Tessa and her newfound college life, along with a tattoo-covered bad boy, Hardin Scott (because they obviously can’t use Harry’s name. Duh) who waltzes into her life and changes everything. Tessa and Hardin have what’s far from an average relationship and display many ups and downs as they both attempt to navigate this freshly found love, as well as personal and family issues. Straying far from the original book’s path, the movie takes a turn for the worse when it introduces a basic and trite conflict that the couple has to somehow overcome together, even though they basically can’t stand to be around each other (except for when they are alone, of course).

Although the casting of this film was rather impressive, with both Langford and Tiffin taking on their roles well, the poor development sort of spoiled it all. ”

— Claire Lawrence

The main problem I couldn’t see past when watching this movie was the miniscule amount of character development in both the characters as individuals and as a couple. It basically introduced the characters to one another and by the next seen, they were kissing in the woods with a soft melody playing in the background. Um, hello? Where is the build up? The tension? No one wants to go into a movie just to have the relationship thrown in their faces; they want a slow burn that eventually explodes into a intense frenzy of love and passion. “After” failed to accomplish this vital goal. Although the casting of this film was rather impressive, with both Langford and Tiffin taking on their roles well, the poor development sort of spoiled it all.

Another odd aspect I noticed in this film was the insignificant amount of dialogue between the two main characters. For a couple that is supposed to be madly infatuated with each other, they barely spoke more than just a few “hello”s here and there and some pitiful arguments. In fact, most of the speaking shared between the two was in the context of a fight. It almost felt as if the soundtrack for this movie took up 70 percent of the audio, as it was showed multiple times during emotional scenes with blurred speaking.

Now, let’s move on to some of the things I enjoyed and found refreshing.

The movie included an absurd amount of music, both at right and wrong moments. But one thing they did manage to get right was choosing what song to play when. None of the songs played felt out of place, in the sense that they fit the scene well and helped convey certain emotions to the audience members. Some of the soundtrack includes popular hits like “Look After You” by The Fray, “like that” by Bea Miller and even a cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated”. I definitely wasn’t disappointed by the selection.

Overall, I didn’t entirely hate watching this movie in theatres, and I don’t necessarily think it was a total waste of my money. Yes, it was a complete cliche and didn’t manage to stay on track with the book 100 percent, but Anna Todd definitely knew what she was doing. She knows her audience well — middle school and teenage girls who die anytime a boy even remotely cute appears on screen. But if you are above the age of 17, you probably won’t enjoy the movie as much. If I’m being totally honest, I just spent most of the movie staring at Tiffin and jamming to the background music. If you are as much of a die-hard Harry Styles fan as I am, you probably shouldn’t waste your time planning to watch this film. All in all, fanfiction plot lines should probably remain on publishing sites, like Wattpad, and stay off the silver screen, no matter how much publicity it gets from obsessed fans.