Tracker Pixel for Entry

Jennifer Gage’s fan-fiction adaptation ‘After’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | May 8th, 2019

Jennifer Gage’s sudsy “After” offers run-of-the-mill college romance targeted to the PG-13 demographic. The result, a far cry from the lustier stories upon which it is based, misses the mark despite an appealing performance from Josephine Langford as the virginal heroine Tessa Young. Gage, who wrote the screenplay with Susan McMartin, Tamara Chestna, and Tom Betterton, sands the edges off the good-girl-meets-bad-boy narrative, and the tepid result never achieves the entertaining scope of Stephenie Meyer’s genre urtext “Twilight.” Meyer, of course, has long been scrutinized for her fantasy explorations of teen love, sex, and relationships. Accusations of antifeminism continue to be scrutinized in “Twilight” scholarship.    

The link between “Twilight” and “After” may be more interesting than the final movie product. “After” began in 2013 as online fan fiction inspired by the pop band One Direction. Author Anna Todd, taking notes from photoshopped mashups that depicted the idolized bandmates as edgier, tougher, tattooed versions of their existing personae, expanded the work into a widely-read series of paperback bestsellers.    The publication template was so redolent of E. L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” (which famously began as “Twilight” fanfic) that critics identified in-text parallels, raising questions about the potentially abusive behavior of the brooding Hardin Scott (rechristened from 1D’s Harry Styles). And the similarities don’t end there. Todd, like James, wrote a follow-up in which the story is retold from the male character’s point of view.

Sensible and steady Tessa, a first-year undergraduate embarking on a college adventure filled with nothing but world-is-your-oyster promises of success, immediately falls for Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, the one-time Tom Riddle), a troubled looker with serious daddy issues, a buried secret from the past, and a toned canvas for a set of inked body art meant to scream “Danger!”  Tessa rebuffs an opportunity for a kiss during a round of truth or dare, delightfully spars with Hardin over matters of character construction in “Pride and Prejudice,” and winds up joining Hardin for a dip in his favorite, secret lake spot. High school sweetheart Noah (Dylan Arnold), to whom Tessa has pledged long-distance commitment and loyalty, doesn’t stand a chance.

While “After” might divide its audiences among hate-watchers, bad movie enthusiasts, and genuine appreciators, the filmmakers deserve applause for the casting of Selma Blair, Peter Gallagher, and Jennifer Beals (all in parental mode).  Gallagher and Beals get very little to play, but Blair, whose big-screen breakthrough as Cecile Caldwell twenty years ago in “Cruel Intentions” is sharper than anything that happens in “After,” relishing her scenes as Tessa’s mom Karen. Blair gets to pout and scold and frown at Tessa’s questionable choices, and an angry threat to “cut off” her daughter is as delicious as the thought of Karen inappropriately commiserating with Noah back home. Alas, “After” dares not cross that line, failing as well to muster any kind of truly shocking Hardin bombshell -- despite teasing one.

If “After” is supposed to land in the 18-30 year-old market referred to as “new adult,” as opposed to “young adult,” fiction, it’s tough to factor the MPAA rating and the chaste, old-fashioned orientation to sex as anything beyond a desire to allow for a wider range of potential ticket buyers. The movie plays it too safe start to finish. And aside from whatever discussions might emerge concerning the representation of toxicity, masculinity, and toxic masculinity, the lack of originality is the film’s Achilles heel.

Recently in:

COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has started to make its rounds in the United States. As of Tuesday, Mar. 17, three residents in North Dakota, 11 in South Dakota, and over 60 in Minnesota have been confirmed to have the disease. The…

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

Democratic Socialism Rescues Disaster Capitalism—AgainOur elected representatives are currently appropriating trillions of taxpayer’s dollars to save our economy from the ravages of COVID-19 and disaster capitalism. Here we go…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

The most compelling and powerful idea in Kitty Green’s compelling and powerful film “The Assistant” resides in the network of complicity protecting the predator/stand-in for Harvey Weinstein and those like him. Green…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

#14 of On Tyranny: Establish a private life. – “Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware on a regular basis. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using…