The movie After made me love what I hate about romance movies on Netflix

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Every single time I view a romance movie on Netflix, I am provided with the same melodrama, dry plot, and static, bland characters. I constantly critique the lack of skill behind how each character is portrayed, and I always nitpick the meticulous details—costumes, makeup, soundtrack—that go into making the movie what it is. I have discovered that the best way to describe the quality of romance movies on Netflix is to compare them to saltine crackers: they’re undeniably bland, any bit of excitement provided is pure luck, and they’re extremely easy to get sick of.  

The movie After is no exception, and it fits perfectly into the cookie-cutter mold of the average, unspecial quality that most romance movies on Netflix exhibit. While viewing the one hour and forty-five minute long movie, I craved more substance and more purposeful events. I was insanely bored with the copious love scenes the movie included, and I was extremely disappointed that a movie about innocent, developing love quickly turned into a movie centered around lust. 

But, for some reason I absolutely loved what I absolutely hate about Netflix’s romance movies. The emotion behind betrayal, falling in love, desperation, and heartbrokenness was evidently not present within the actors’ portrayal of their characters. However, I was utterly engaged in the would-never-happen-in-real-life love story After provided, and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing a glimpse of college life through the protagonists’ perspectives.

The two protagonists of After are Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) and Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin). Both are college students, and both decide to major in English—but Tessa does not change her major to English until later in the movie. Although they eventually share the same major, they are definitely not the same in who they are. Tessa is very innocent, and she is a smart, dedicated, and focused student. Hardin, however, is a “bad boy.” He and his friends constantly attend parties, and he is decorated with tattoos.  

The two opposites meet through Tessa’s roommate Steph (Khadijha Red Thunder) who shares a friend group with Hardin, and their encounters increase once Steph attempts to incorporate Tessa into their friend group. Tessa tags along to various parties, and she gets herself into sticky situations with Hardin through party games such as Truth or Dare. Not to mention, Tessa has a boyfriend who’s still in high school, so she experiences frustration once she realizes that she and Hardin can’t be just friends. The entire movie features Tessa and Hardin navigating through their forbidden, complicated love. 

The emotion behind betrayal, falling in love, desperation, and heartbrokenness was evidently not present within the actors’ portrayal of their characters. However, I was utterly engaged in the would-never-happen-in-real-life love story After provided.”

Tessa and Hardin’s love story was directed by Jenny Gage and produced by Jennifer Gibgot, Anna Todd, Mark Canton, Courtney Solomon, Aron Levitz, and Dennis Pelino. The production company behind After is Offspring Entertainment which is behind other notable movies such as the Step Up series, 17 Again, The Last Song, and Bedtime Stories. Clearly, Offspring Entertainment has created numerous masterpieces of movies; but, compared to The Last Song—which is well-known today and has been awarded prestigious awards such as a Teen Choice Award—After falls excessively short of greatness. 

However, the soundtrack of After surpasses greatness, and it is without a doubt one of the standout aspects of the entire movie. Adorned with groovy, passionate songs such as Someone to You by BANNERS, Out of Love by Alessia Cara, and Look After You by The Fray, the soundtrack of the movie successfully carries viewers through Tessa and Hardin’s triumphs and tribulations. As the couple ran through the library while Someone to You filled the audio of the scene, I was encouraged to instantly drop everything and experience an adventure for myself. 

That scene was invigorating, and that’s when I began to root for Tessa and Hardin to work out. Aspects such as the movie’s soundtrack definitely make up for the emotionless acting and uncomplicated “real problems” that After also offers. Any serious problems, such as issues with family chemistry, that were brought up in the dialogue were quickly brushed over without any dept–the movie lacked any serious substance.

But, After did paint a picture of a real-ish and entertaining love story, and Tessa and Hardin’s relationship did show the not-so-perfect aspects that are present in a relationship. The truth is, falling in love, and being in love, is an extremely complicated process, and it’s never done the same way twice. So, After provided one of those ways, and through that, the movie inspired audiences to freely and unapologetically chase a love—or an adventure—of their own.

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