MOVIE REVIEW: Romance makes makes 50 Shades look serious
Director: Jenny Gage
Starring: Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes Tiffin
Running time: 106 minutes
Verdict: Fan friction
When a leading neurosurgeon told Margaret Atwood that he was thinking about writing a novel when he retired, she replied tartly:
"That's funny. When I retire, I'm thinking of becoming a neurosurgeon."
It's common for lay people to underestimate the skill that goes into storytelling, an ancient and venerable profession.
So while we should celebrate the democracy of an internet community such as Wattpad, which allows users to self-publish fan fiction, that opportunity should come with a word of cautionary advice:
DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB.
After makes 50 Shades Of Grey look like Anna Karenina.
The only person who survives this misbegotten romance with her reputation intact is West Australian actress Josephine Langford.
She plays the heroine, Tessa Young, a studious college sophomore who is celibate by choice, with a parted-lipped intensity that feels weirdly genuine.
If the 21-year-old newcomer can sell material as crook as this, it would be interesting to see what she could do with original ideas and proper dialogue.
Ralph and Joseph Fiennes' nephew, Hero, doesn't fare nearly so well as bad boy Hardin - yes, Hardin. Is this a conscious or subconscious slip? It's hard to decide which is worse.
A fantasy version of One Direction's Harry Styles, Fiennes Tiffin scowls, pouts and grimaces, but never successfully broods - despite the film's obvious and rather heavy-handed allusions to literary antecedents such as Mr Darcy and Heathcliff.
After - about a sensible girl with her life already planned out whose world is turned on its head by the mysterious rebel she meets in her first few weeks at university - is adapted from the Wattpad story of the same name first published by Anna Todd in 2013.
Within months she had 544 million readers and a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster.
The film adaptation has been through several iterations since Paramount acquired the screen rights in 2014. Offspring Entertainment inherited the project in 2017.
It's hard to believe this latest version is the best anyone could come up with.
The plotting wouldn't pass a Year 7 Naplan test.
And exactly how many screenwriters does it take to write a line like: "I don't deserve you?"
The one good thing about After (apart from Langford)? It makes you appreciate how much better things were before.
* Now showing