Every so often, high art gets to be a drag, and you need a good romance to purge your brain of all that intensity to make room for more. The problem is, of course, good ones are hard to find. For every Knocked Up or The Notebook, you have plenty of crap “Nicholas-Sparks” adaptations and corny rom-coms featuring the uncharismatic tabloid couple of the month. Find yourself going on a date, and you’re stuck choosing between awful and worse while secretly hoping they’ll want to see the new horror movie. Fortunately, the writer/director team of Hannah Marks and Joey Power have made your next outing a lot easier.
Elliot (Jeremy Allen White) lives a directionless early-20s New York City life making sandwiches and hitting on girls with Nico, his best friend and roommate. While waiting on a subway platform, he runs into Mia (Maika Monroe), a customer who frequents his place of employment. They start dating right when he gets a serious health diagnosis, leading to the both of them jumping headfirst into their relationship, eventually all the way to marriage. Of course, married life is not as easy as it seems. Mia strives to be a successful professional while Elliot still thinks the app he developed years ago will change the world. Constant bickering drives them apart as the reality of their relationship takes hold, and new realizations come to light.
“…a serious health diagnosis, leading to the both of them jumping headfirst into their relationship...”
As the leading male, White confidently holds his own. Sure, he’s played Lip on Showtime’s Shameless for seven years, but with that ship slowly sinking it’s nice to see life for him beyond the Gallagher family. He shines in the light of a sharp screenplay, revealing a range previously restricted by repetitive story arcs. Monroe perfectly plays his counterpart with an irresistible quirky softness. She’s smart and highly motivated, but cares deeply for those around her, sometimes even beyond her own needs. Her cute idiosyncrasies make her all the more lovable and real as she finds herself amid the turmoil.
Marks and Power deliver that unicorn of romance movies. It’s funny, heartbreaking, but, most of all, intelligent and realistic. We know these characters, either as pieces of our past or reflections of our present. They’re tactile people, not lazy stereotypes. Visually, the camera captures the gauntlet of emotions, from deep intimacy to isolating separation through a series of beautifully composed shots, making it not bad to look at, either.
Relationships aren’t easy, and most of them don’t last. We all know it even if we don’t want to admit it. It’s nice to see a movie that knows it, too, rather than just another bland manufactured happy ending. After Everything shows us that there’s always a future at the end of the journey.
After Everything (2018) Directed by Hannah Marks and Joey Power. Written by Hannah Marks and Joey Power. Starring Jeremy Allen White, Maika Monroe, Marisa Tomei, Gina Gershon, Dean Winters and Callie Thorne.
9 out of 10 stars