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‘After We Fell’ and the real problem with modern cinema

| Thursday, January 20, 2022

Claire Kirner | The Observer

“After We Fell” — based on a Harry Styles Wattpad fanfiction — was recently released on Netflix as the third movie of its series. Some fans of the movie will be thrilled to see Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) and Tessa (Josephine Langford) back on the screen; I, however, will not. The truth is, despite watching all three movies, I don’t like any of them. My origin story for watching these movies begins with my sister and I primarily watching them to talk about Hardin.

But I must give credit where credit is due — this film didn’t disappoint me. The reason why is because I knew I wouldn’t like it going into it. The main reason why I knew this is because of the relationship that was presented in the movie. Watching “After We Fell” is something that has to be done with the knowledge that the protagonists’ relationship isn’t a healthy one. The ideas presented are flawed, specifically because of the way mental health is portrayed. Tessa is presented as the person who Hardin is terrified of losing because of how much he loves her. At the same time, she is the person who is always there for him, but the movie fails to recognize that Hardin has unresolved trauma that should be treated by a mental health professional. Tessa always being there for Hardin doesn’t have to be an inherently bad thing, but at some point, Hardin could have benefitted from seeing a professional.

My problem with the way these issues are presented largely comes from the film’s audience: teenage girls who could be impacted by the things the movie fails to get right. In addition to the failure of addressing mental health, the movie somewhat glamorizes toxic relationships. “After We Fell” isn’t the first movie to do this, but it is a continuous cycle. This is one of the fundamental problems with modern cinema — the lack of audience awareness. Presenting harmful ideas in film in a way that glorifies them shows a lack of awareness for your audience, especially when your audience is younger and more impressionable. The way “After We Fell” portrays Hardin and Tessa’s relationship is one with a lack of trust. There is constant jealousy coming from Hardin related to any man who goes near Tessa. The irony of this jealousy is that Hardin was the one who cheated with Tessa in the first movie. The same jealousy applies to Tessa when she flirts with a waiter to get back at Hardin for talking to an old friend named Lillian. You can claim to trust someone, but part of jealousy is the fear of infidelity. Hardin claims that he simply doesn’t trust the men involved with Tessa, who fails to explain where her jealousy comes from. Hardin’s jealousy is even further emphasized when he comes to Seattle after dreaming about Tessa and another man.

This is just one aspect of the film that I believe shows the lack of trust within the relationship. The storyline that showed Hardin trusting Tessa wasn’t explored enough for it to be meaningful. Hardin didn’t want her to see where he grew up, but it’s never truly revealed what he didn’t want her to see. This movie, because of its problematic nature, isn’t one worth watching unless you truly can understand where it fails. From this reviewer’s perspective, “After We Fell” is a movie that falls into the zero-shamrock category.

 

Title: “After We Fell”

Starring: Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Josephine Langford

Director: Castille Landon

If You Like: “After”

Shamrocks: 0 out of 5

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