After Parent Guide
Sex is the raison d'etre of this sorry excuse for a romantic drama.
Parent Movie Review
I am going to cut right to the chase – After has the wrong title. It should be titled Before because it’s basically a foreplay film, with multiple scenes where the main characters kiss, stroke one another, slide their hands under each other’s clothes (or remove them), bathe together, and embrace standing, sitting, or in bed together. But director Jenny Gage has been careful and, since no breasts or genitals are visible, After manages to come in at the high end of a PG-13 rating. That rating is deceptive because sex is the entire raison d’etre of this sorry excuse for a romantic drama.
Not surprisingly, the plot is thin. Conscientious student and all-round good girl Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) arrives for her freshman year at college and gets thrown in at the deep end with a wild roommate, Steph (Khadijha Red Thunder). At her first college party, a game of Truth or Dare gets very uncomfortable very quickly. After an emotionally charged encounter with Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), Tessa leaves, but this won’t be the last time she sees him.
The more often she runs into Hardin, the harder it is for Tessa to walk away. As a viewer, it is difficult for me to figure out why. Tessa is a bright, charming young woman, and Josephine Langford plays her with luminous innocence. Hardin, on the other hand, is a brooding, troubled young man, who likes to allude to Heathcliff (from Wuthering Heights). While it might be possible to make his character compelling, Hero Fiennes Tiffin fails completely. His acting is wooden and he seems to think that a petulant expression and British accent will make him seem mysterious or irresistible. But he just manages to come across as a sulky member of a British boy band with entitlement issues. In fact, in one scene where Tessa asks her emotionally manipulative boyfriend who he loves most in the world, his response is “Easy. Myself.”
Despite Hardin’s self-absorption, he and Tessa wind up in a relationship and the sexual content in the movie takes off. The frequent making out scenes are eventually followed by sexual intercourse – shown from the shoulders up, although the rhythmic movement makes it obvious what is happening. The only silver lining to this scene is that Hardin does make sure Tessa consents to the activity and he uses a condom (although watching him rip the package open with his teeth is just plain weird). And these two aren’t the only people involved in a sexual relationship: Steph is apparently a lesbian and we see her kissing another woman on the lips at a party and later bringing a woman back to her room, where she removes her shirt, and the pair kiss in bed while Tessa tries to ignore their activities. On top of the sexual activity, the film features matter-of-fact marijuana use and scenes of college students drinking to excess and pressuring an unwilling student to imbibe. The only bright side in this film’s content is the virtual absence of swearing – I only counted three profanities. It’s a relief to know that Hollywood studios are capable of producing a movie that isn’t saturated with swear words.
At risk of sounding like I’m piling on, I also need to point out that the movie has some annoying plot holes, a predictable resolution to the story, and a lot of one-dimensional characters. It seems strange that university students spend so little time studying but apparently seem to excel in their coursework. (And professors also act in ways that I never saw during my university years.) In light of this film’s manifold flaws, I only hope that audiences avoid this flop instead of regretting it after.Directed by Jenny Gage. Starring Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Selma Blair, Josephine Langford. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release April 12, 2019. Updated March 9, 2021
Rating & Content Info
Why is After rated PG-13? After is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sexual content and some college partying
Violence: There is a brief physical confrontation between a main character and another man which involves pushing, shoving and punching. A main character has apparently thrown objects around a kitchen: his activity isn’t seen, but his stepbrother is shown cleaning up his mess. The young man later throws a bottle of alcohol on a terrace and the broken glass cuts another character’s hand. A security guard chases two people out of a library for being there after hours.
Sexual Content: The main character is shown in the shower from the shoulders up. When she returns to her dorm to get dressed, she finds a man sitting on her roommate’s bed and he refuses to leave when she asks. Two women kiss on the lips. A woman brings another woman to her bed, removes her blouse and the two kiss passionately. There are multiple scenes of a man and woman kissing, sometimes very passionately. There is discussion as to whether a young woman has had sex. A young woman is dared to make out with a man. A main character removes his shirt and jeans to go swimming. Another main character removes her dress and puts on a t-shirt to swim. A young man is repeatedly seen without a shirt. A man strokes a woman’s arm, shoulder and chest, pulls off her shirt and slides his hand into her underwear. A main character dreams that she wakes up to find a shirtless man in her bed, stroking her face and chest. In a couple of scenes, a young man and woman remove each other’s shirts, stroke and kiss one another, including on the chest and stomach, and unzip each other’s jeans. A woman in a lowcut dress dances closely with a man and the two kiss passionately. A woman tells a man “I want you now.” They remove each other’s clothes and he lies on top of her on a bed. He rips open a condom package with his teeth. There is lots of heavy breathing and rhythmic movement but they are only seen from the shoulders up. A young man and woman are seen in the bathtub together: he is drawing on her back with his finger. They kiss in the bath.
Profanity: There are two uses of a scatological expression and one mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: College age characters are shown smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, sometimes to excess. A main character gets drunk to cope with emotional stress. Another main character is pressured to drink alcohol and finally does so.
Page last updated March 9, 2021
After Parents' Guide
Are there turning points where Tessa’s life could have turned out differently? What if she had refused the drink at the first party? What if she hadn’t accidentally walked into Hardin’s room? What if she had refused to get in his car or swim with him? Are there small turning points in your life that can have wider consequences?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Tessa and Harden frequently refer to classic love stories in this movie. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is a story of obsessive love, featuring a haunted, brooding man named Heathcliff.
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen is a beloved classic. This sparkling love story features a relationship between the haughty, reserved Fitzwilliam Darcy and the saucy, intelligent Elizabeth Bennet.
The Great Gatsby, written by F Scott Fitzgerald, tells the story of the obsessive and doomed relationship between millionaire Jay Gatsby and a beautiful debutante, Daisy Buchanan.
The most recent home video release of After movie is July 9, 2019. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
If you’re looking for healthier adolescent relationships without graphic sexual content, The Darkest Minds features a young couple whose relationship begins with friendship and develops to encompass loyalty, devotion, and sacrifice.
Five Feet Apart tells the heart-wrenching story of two 17-year-olds who fall in love, but who can never touch each other because of their cystic fibrosis.
In A Walk to Remember, a wild young man falls in love with the pastor’s daughter. Her example inspires him to change his life.