PERTH born actress Josephine Langford stands out as the singularly convincing performance in After, a film based on the novel of the same name by Anna Todd which first found fame as Harry Styles fan fiction on the website Wattpad.
Tessa Young (Langford) is starting college with good grades, a dedicated boyfriend back home and a love of classic literature.
She focuses on study, determined to make her single mum (Selma Blair) proud, but eventually her dope-smoking roommate convinces Tessa to come to a party, introducing her to alcohol and Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin), a brooding, mysterious Brit.
Initially there is tension between the two, peaking in a heated class discussion on Pride & Prejudice, but when Hardin takes Tessa to his favourite lake this tension cannot help but morph into a passionate romance.
After knows its audience are fans of the original book and therefore apparently feels no need to smooth over some of the more awkward plot points.
Cliches abound, character motivations are sketchy and people say nonsensical lines completely straight-faced, which would be laughable if it was not taken so seriously by the film itself.
Langford (younger sister of Katherine Langford of 13 Reasons Why fame) miraculously is able to find a real living person in Tessa, providing some genuine emotion.
She is helped by a female director and screenwriter who firmly keep the film within the realms of female fantasy and the female gaze.
As much as the film tries to persuade us that Hardin is a “bad boy”, he is refreshingly respectful to Tessa, asking her consent during sexual scenes, taking her on picnics and staying in the library after dark to read aloud to her.
After can be applauded for its efforts to explore burgeoning female sexuality but it is a shame it comes wrapped in such a poorly-made package.
Directed by: Jenny Gage
Starring: Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Selma Blair
Review by Lucy Rutherford
In cinemas now