After We Fell is finally out in the United States and can we say it was worth the wait? Yes and no. The third film in the After franchise based on the books by New York Times bestselling author Anna Todd, was good but it fell short in a lot of ways.
We get that it is very difficult to adapt a book for the screen and After We Fell was certainly not an easy book to bring to life. It is after all one of the longest books in Anna Todd’s series at 834 pages. As a fan of this book series, before the film even came out, I found myself wondering just how any director would tell this story. Castille Landon, director of the final two installments in this series, had a challenge with this one.
One of the things I have heard lots of After fans say is that Castille gave us book Hessa with After We Fell. Now that is true, we did get book Hessa in this film but, I also think we got book Hessa in After and After We Collided. Sure, they were different versions of them from directors Jenny Gage and Roger Kumble, but the essence was there. We have had book Hessa since the beginning of this franchise whether anyone wants to believe it or not. Every one of the films in this franchise made us fall in love with, and invest our time into these characters and that just continued into After We Fell.
After and After We Collided had things that were missing or changed and so did After We Fell. After We Fell is by no means a perfect film and that may sound harsh, but this is Fangirlish, and we don’t sugarcoat anything. I am not trying to tell you what to think about this film, I’m simply giving my take on it. With a runtime of 1 hour and 38 minutes (the shortest runtime since the After films began), Castille did the best she could. However, the first half of the film is a bit of a jumble and goes around in circles.
After We Collided ended with Hardin and Tessa running into her dad Richard as they left the tattoo parlor but, After We Fell starts with Tessa and Hardin inside of the apartment talking to Richard. That took me out of the moment because first, both Hardin and Tessa are wearing completely different outfits and we have no backstory of how they even ran into each other. That may not seem like a big deal to some fans, but it was for me. I believe in the continuity of a story, and this was a continuation of where we left off in After We Collided. So…
Like I said, After We Fell is a very large book, so I understand that it was difficult to adapt. I couldn’t help wondering about how involved the author was in the screenplay because it felt like there was something missing.
Sure, the story is based on Anna Todd’s book but, the story just didn’t land for me in a lot of places. I don’t know if there was more in Sharon Soboil’s screenplay that didn’t make it in, but the film had a rushed feel to it. It was like they wanted to get in so many book moments that we lost the plot a bit. And my favorite parts of the film truly didn’t come until Tessa and Hardin got to London and that was basically almost the end of the film.
Everything before the London trip felt forced. Even the family cabin trip felt off to me. It was nothing like when I read it in the book. There were a lot of odd changes that didn’t work and most of them involved the interactions at the restaurant and the bar. I know the focus of this story is Tessa and Hardin which is great, but if you are going to have all these other cast members, you need to utilize them in better ways.
As you know there was a lot of recasting in this film. The only original cast members other than our leads Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, were Rob Estes as Ken and Louise Lombard as Trish.
Chance Perdomo as Landon was good and he was entertaining but, at times it felt a bit like he was thrown in as comic relief. He did have some nice moments with Josephine, but I guess I was so sad that Shane Paul McGhie wasn’t Landon, I couldn’t help thinking about him as I watched them together. Stephen Moyer’s Vance was perfection. His performance honestly had me wishing he had played Vance from the beginning. He and Hero had some great scenes together and I really believed their relationship.
Louise Lombard is one of my absolute favorites in the After films. The way she brings Hardin’s Mum Trish to life is just phenomenal and I would have been devastated if she’d been recast. There is no one else I could have seen in this role and she’s just such a light onscreen and I truly believe in her and Hardin’s mother/son relationship.
There were also a few cast members I think were underutilized. Mira Sorvino as the new Carol is one of them. We never once saw her have any interaction with Tessa throughout the entire film. Not even a single phone call. If Tessa’s dad is in town, she should have at least had one moment talking to her mom about it. As much as she’s in After We Fell the book, she should have been in the film.
Kiana Madeira, who I love and was excited to see as Nora, showed up in an awkward moment. Her introduction fell flat for me, and she’s an important character in Landon’s life. Their onscreen moment did nothing for me at all and didn’t even begin to develop where their relationship ends up.
The new Karen, Frances Turner also had a very minuscule role. It bugged me that she wasn’t even at the restaurant on the family trip. Like, how is it a family trip and the wife stays home? Also, Karen and Tessa have a good relationship too and we didn’t get that in After or After We Collided so I at least hoped we would get something in After We Fell but unfortunately, her screen time was wasted too.
The children in this movie were also underutilized. Especially Smith played by Anton Kottas. Hardin and Smith have a strong bond in the books, and I did not see that or believe it in the movie. They have a nice moment by the BBQ pit while Vance is grilling, and they shared a sweet hug but that’s it.
The young Tessa also didn’t pull any emotion from me in the opening scene. I feel bad saying this but, I didn’t believe the pain she was feeling over Richard leaving. I just watched that moment and felt nothing. It was a creative way to open the film because it set the tone for Tessa and her father’s relationship but, I just could not get into it.
While I enjoyed the moments with Richard played by Atanas Srebrev, I didn’t like that there weren’t any real moments between him and Josephine Langford. I feel like he had more screen time with Hero Fiennes Tiffin. Richard is Tessa’s father and we needed more of that connection between the two of them. They had one scene together where they speak briefly but it wasn’t enough to cement their relationship for me considering what is to come in After Ever Happy.
Carter Jenkins did a nice job playing Robert, but I didn’t think his character played as much of a threat as he should have. Hardin’s nightmare about him and Tessa being together was strange to me. In my opinion Hardin didn’t interact with Robert enough for me to feel and believe that he could take Tessa away. If anything, a Trevor nightmare would have made more sense.
After the hot tub scene in After We Fell, which we will further get into in a minute, Tessa and Hardin talk about Trevor. Hardin asks her if she had feelings for him and she talks about how there was one moment, and he angrily storms off before she can finish. Clearly, Hardin is more threatened by Trevor who no longer exists in After We Fell (bye Dylan Sprouse).
Josephine Langford as Tessa is always incredible. She has brought Tessa to life from the moment she stepped foot onscreen in After. She is Tessa. There is no one else I can ever see as Tessa. I love the way she has showcased Tessa’s maturity throughout this film, and she truly did that in After We Fell. Tessa has come into her own in more ways than one in After We Fell, and Josephine nails it.
Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin really got to flourish in After We Fell. I was extremely impressed by him and think this was one of his best performances since he started in this franchise. I’m sure it’s because he really got to be Hardin and we got so much more of who he is and why he does what he does. I cried several times watching his performance. He’s just phenomenal, especially in the London scenes.
After We Fell does have some beautiful moments and the cinematography is stunning to look at. All the London sequences are amazing, and I think shooting in Bulgaria, was a nice choice because it did add a lot of incredible scenery. Castille also shot the film with a very bright tone which I liked, and I loved Vance’s house and I wanted to live there.
I also liked that we saw a little more of Tessa and Hardin focusing on their education. It was really nice to see Hardin talking to Ken about his grades as he worked on a plan to move to Seattle. I thought it was an important reminder to the audience that Hardin was also focused on his studies and his future.
Something that I didn’t like was the way the love scenes were done. That was one of the other things I heard lots of After fans talk about. The love scenes were not terrible but, the choices made in shooting some of them, were very awkward and there was a lack of soft intimacy.
The hot tub scene was my least favorite of all. It started off good, but the intimacy and sexiness of that sequence was lost for me once they split apart, and the scene felt very mechanical after that. I won’t go into detail about the way I think it could have been better but, I have thought about this and would have made a different choice. Except for that weird foot shot, the best love scene in the movie for me was the gym scene.
Despite my issues with the love scenes, Josephine and Hero still have amazing chemistry. That can’t be denied. They work so well together, and they had a lot of adorable moments that I loved. When he would just grab her and hold her or give her a soft kiss, I would internally say awww. We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better Tessa and Hardin. I’m sad this franchise is almost done because I am going to miss seeing these two onscreen.
Castille has been asked about her interpretation of After We Fell and often refers to it as a reboot, which I think is a bad way to look at this film. Maybe that’s why the story fell flat for me in some areas. It didn’t feel entirely like Anna Todd’s story through and through. Also, you can’t reboot something we’re in the middle of. We are literally in the middle of this film series. You can’t reboot something that isn’t finished. The spinoffs of After that are in the works are reboots. The After movies are not.
The problem with referring to After We Fell as a reboot is that it makes the previous two films seem like they don’t matter. It’s almost like, telling the fans of this franchise to just forget what we saw in After and After We Collided. That’s wrong. While I appreciated greatly that Castille had some nice flashbacks from After because they were beautiful, there were absolutely no nods to After We Collided. The saying honoring the past comes to mind a lot when I think of those moments being left out. Even in After We Collided, we got lots of After flashbacks which I loved.
Like I said before, I know that After We Collided had its own set of issues but, there were still moments in that film that meant a lot to this fandom.
There were two moments from After We Collided which I thought would have fit perfectly in the flashbacks, but they didn’t make it in. When Hardin goes through Tessa’s notebook and reads the part about pain, there is a flashback of Tessa in the lake which was odd to me. There was no pain in that scene. There was, however, pain during the New Year’s Eve fight and that moment should have gone into that scene. She also could have put in the moment when Hardin tells Tessa he loves her for the very first time. That moment meant something to me, and I know lots of After fans who also loved it just as much.
As I said above, After We Fell had its enjoyable moments and it once again gave us the Hessa we wanted. While there were things I didn’t like, that’s to be expected in a book-to-screen adaptation. We are not going to love everything. That’s just not realistic. Castille did end the film on a very beautiful note, and it brought me to tears. Getting The Frays song “Never Say Never (Don’t Let Me Go)” was an amazing choice and Josephine and Hero broke me at that moment. No matter how you feel about this film, the love story of Tessa and Hardin remains the strongest driving force and is what keeps us invested in this series.
After We Fell is showing in limited theatres now.