“After We Fell” – based on a Wattpad fanfic by Harry Styles – was recently released on Netflix as the third film in its series. Some fans of the film will be excited to see Hardin (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) and Tessa (Josephine Langford) back on screen; However, I don’t. The truth is, even though I’ve seen all three films, I don’t like any of them. My origin story for watching these films begins with my sister and I watching them primarily to talk about Hardin.
But I have to give credit where credit is due – this film did not disappoint. The reason is because I knew I wasn’t going to like it. The main reason I knew this is because of the relationship portrayed in the film. Watching After We Fell has to be done with the knowledge that the protagonists’ relationship is not healthy. The ideas presented are flawed, particularly because of the way mental health is presented. Tessa is portrayed as the person Hardin fears losing because he loves her so much. At the same time, she is the person who is always there for him, but the film fails to realize that Hardin has unresolved trauma that should be treated by a psychiatrist. Tessa’s always being there for Hardin doesn’t have to be a bad thing in itself, but at some point Hardin could have benefited from seeing a pro.
My issue with the way these themes are presented stems largely from the film’s audience: teenage girls who might be affected by the things the film doesn’t do right. In addition to failing to address mental health, the film glorifies toxic relationships. After We Fell isn’t the first film to do this, but it’s an ongoing cycle. This is one of the fundamental problems of modern cinema – the lack of public awareness. Presenting harmful ideas in film in a way that glorifies them shows a lack of awareness of your audience, especially when your audience is younger and more impressionable. The way “After We Fell” portrays Hardin and Tessa’s relationship is one of a lack of trust. There is constant jealousy from Hardin towards any man who approaches Tessa. The irony of this jealousy is that Hardin was the one who cheated on Tessa in the first film. 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 just doesn’t trust the men who deal with Tessa, who doesn’t explain where her jealousy comes from. Hardin’s jealousy is compounded when he arrives in Seattle after having dreams about Tessa and another man.
This is just one aspect of the film that I think shows the lack of trust within the relationship. The plot that showed Hardin trusting Tessa hasn’t been explored enough to be significant. Hardin didn’t want her to see where he grew up, but it was never really revealed, which he didn’t want her to see. Due to its problematic nature, this film is not worth watching unless you can really understand where it fails. From this reviewer’s perspective After We Fell is a film that falls into the zero shamrock category.
Title: “After We Fall”
With: Held Fiennes Tiffin, Josephine Langford
Director: Castile Landon
If you want: “To”
Clovers: 0 out of 5