Review: AFTER

Directed by Rosalie Tenseth and written by lead actor Joshua Schubart, a young widower is forced to move back home, and with the help of his family and friends, tries to get back into the dating game. Also starring: Brian Michael Smith, Olivia Baptista, Teegan Leah Curitz, Anna Suzuki Deb Mayo and Clyde Baldo.

Tenseth’s direction (in part one) brings a very modern feel to this story, which is ironically quite timeless. There’s a softness to its aesthetic overall but it’s something that’s much more emphasised when exploring Jeremy’s (Schubart) relationship with his late wife. This works to both its advantage and disadvantage, it’s sweet but can also feel too sweet, it separates past from present, but that also doesn’t feel entirely necessary. There’s a close, intimate feel to its style, which fits well with its story but doesn’t simultaneously feel like it’s offering something new or with an overly unique personality.

It feels like a slightly similar case with the character of Jeremy, his persona and attitude feel very familiar, he doesn’t stand out as someone far outside of what we’ve seen before. There are brief exceptions to this, actions that the writing brings through but they don’t feel entirely consistent. It’s an issue the writing has, as the tone it’s trying to set is not committing one way or the other, it’s both trying to come across with a blunt, sarcastic humour and a sentimental, almost saccharine romance. Unfortunately, this blend is something that they can’t quite pull off as one ends up undermining the other, leaving things unbalanced, and to a certain extent feeling as though they played things too safe.

Although none of which is a reflection of the acting, which is solid throughout. Joshua Schubart does well to bring that biting edge of resentment, having to deal with social situations when you can’t bare to speak to other people. Especially in the interactions with his parents (played by Deb Mayo and Clyde Baldo), which are perfectly awkward and utterly relatable. Teegan Leah Curitz brings a surprisingly strong personality to Vic, given the brief moments she appears, making her sympathetic, funny and tough.

AFTER is a great concept and one that will likely work for lots of people, it’s sweet and easy to relate to but the balance it strikes becomes saccharine. It has a modern feel but it takes away slightly from the more down to earth nature by leaning towards a very bright, soft palette. The acting is strong and convincing, the characters are sympathetic and easy to watch. There’s certainly talent and skill at work here, but it doesn’t make as lasting of an impression as you’d hope.

Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10

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