Writer: Sharon Soboil
stars: Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Chance Perdomo, Stephen Moyer and Mira Sorvino.
Synopsis: As a shocking truth about a couple’s families emerges, the two lovers discover that they are not so different from each other. Tessa is no longer the sweet, simple, good girl she was when she first met Hardin, any more than he is the mean, bad-tempered boy she fell so hard for.
*Warning: The following review may contain spoilers for After Ever Happy.*
Another year, another After movie. If you’ve been following the press tour for this one, stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Josephine Langford are trying to convince you that this is the last installment in the franchise. It would make sense since this is the last book in Anna Todd’s Wattpad-to-novel series, except for a prequel novel titled “Before”. However, it appears that the film franchise has no end in sight, as the latest uneventful chapter in the saga, titled after always happyapparently randomly ends with “to be continued…”
I wasn’t the only one who blurted out a WHAT?!? in my screening at the time it appeared. What is there to continue? What other facets of the lives of Tessa (Langford) and Hardin (Fiennes Tiffin) are there to tell? All they’ve been doing for the last three movies is yelling at each other, breaking up, kissing, getting back together, yelling at each other, breaking up, kissing, getting back together, yelling at each other, breaking up, well you get the idea One would think this would be different already which was revealed last year after we fell that publisher Christian (Stephen Moyer) is Hardin’s real father, but no.
That “huge” reveal is ruled out in the first ten minutes of the film. Hardin doesn’t accept Christian as his father and tries to burn down his house (because I guess that’s what nervous teenagers do), until he comes along and decides to forget him, while Christian lets him go. It is what it is, and there’s nothing he can do about it. Then the rest of the movie is nothing more than a willingness to defy between Hardin and Tessa, as they continue to leave each other, and then get back together having passionate bouts of sex that are immediately reminiscent of Tommy Wiseau. Fourth: Kitsch pop blasts through the speakers, as the characters engage in the loosest form of sexual tension possible. Honestly, he thinks of the spiral staircase sequence from Fourthand you have your after always happy sex scenes
It’s a big deal when both leads have little to no chemistry together. It doesn’t help that both characters are horrible people in their own right. Tessa thinks only of herself, while Hardin is just a bloated, erratic mess. Throughout watching the franchise, he would ask me, “Who would want to be with a hothead like that?” Every time Tessa literally talks to another man, Hardin lashes out at them and a fight breaks out. Why? Because he loves Tessa so much that the mere thought of her with anyone else (even Hardin’s half-brother Landon, played by Chance Perdomo) drives him crazy. And then he screams TESSA (!!!) and how much he loves her while constantly saying the F-bomb every two seconds. She rinse and repeat until the movie decides to “continue…”
The only thought that would run through my mind after always happy was that Tessa would finally leave Hardin once and for all, even if the character goes to great lengths to “reshape himself.” But like a virus, it always comes back when we least expect it. It is the cinematic equivalent of COVID-19. Every time we think, “oh thank God that’s over,” it roars with a new mutation to join our bodies again. And just like the pandemic, which currently has no end in sight and is yet another aftermath for the “Afternators,” the After The franchise never wants to end and will pick up the same plot elements (if any) to make as much money as possible until audiences tire of Tessa and Hardin’s needless trouble they create in their tumultuous relationship. Because guess what? They will end up together, even in the midst of their constant attacks.
It’s particularly frustrating to see Stephen Moyer and Mira Sorvino dragged into this mess because they’re talented actors who deserve better. Fortunately, they aren’t in the movie for long, and their limited performances can’t get any better. after always happy of being the hideous boredom that it is. We learn nothing new from the characters, both Langford (and his Sue Storm from Fantastic wig) and Fiennes Tiffin feel like they belong in two different movies, with no chemistry in their arcs, and the movie is a completely cyclical affair based on Tessa and Hardin leaving each other and then becoming a couple again through sex. It’s exactly the same as the last three movies, and I can’t imagine sitting through another one of those again. Although one thing is clear, both Tessa and Hardin need therapy. And fast.