AFTER (2019)*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Misslilia84.
The movie opens with a voice-over by a girl talking about how moments in your life that can define you while it shows a montage of shots of a couple spending time together. The girl says everything in her life was simple before him, and now it’s just after.
Tessa (Josephine Langford) wakes up from a dream and starts to pack her room to leave for college. She is joined by her mother, Carol (Selma Blair) and her BF, Noah (Dylan Arnold) in the kitchen downstairs. Her mother is listing off items that she thinks that Tessa will need while Tessa reminds her that she is going to college and not a survival camp. Noah interjects and says he can drive up there and drop anything off if she forgets it.
The next scene shows them driving through various city settings until they get to her new University. Carol, Noah, and Tessa make their way through the crowded dorm halls looking for her new room, B-22. They open the door and are met by loud music and two girls sitting on the bed. Tessa introduces herself to her new roommate Steph (Khadijha Red Thunder) who is vaping. Steph introduces Tessa to Tristan (Pia Mia). Steph makes a remark about being unsure about having a freshman roommate, but she says it should be cool…she’ll be her spirit guide. Tristan says that they can get Tessa into all the best places even without a fake ID. Carol leaves the room upset and demands that they ask for a room change since the room reeked of weed. She doesn’t want these girls to distract Tessa from her schoolwork. Tessa reminds her that she is responsible and it won’t be an issue. She says goodbye to both Noah and her mom. Tessa returns to her room, and Tristan is gone. Steph and Tessa chat about freaking out Carol, how Noah is Tessa’s BF (not her brother as Steph believed) and still a senior in High school and Tessa’s rather large book collection. Steph leaves, and Tessa unpacks. She is shown later in bed texting with Noah about starting her 1st day the next morning.
Tessa leaves her dorm early in the morning, and head’s to her 1st class across campus. She meets Landon (Shane Paul McGhie) outside of a locked classroom. They are the 1st students to arrive. A professor comes by shortly and opens the door for them. It is an Econ 101 course. They chit chat about their majors and being 1st-year students.
Later that day Tessa takes a shower in the dorm and realizes that her clothes fell on the ground and are all wet. She returns to her room in her towel and opens the closet door. She notices a boy sitting on Steph’s bed in the closet mirror and whips around startled. She tells him she thinks he is in the wrong room. The boy tells her he is in fact in the right place as he barely breaks his concentration from the book he is reading. She then asks him how he got in, and he holds up a set of keys. She asks him to leave so that she can get dressed, but he tells her not to flatter herself…he’s not even looking at her. Steph enters the room and sits down on the bed with him. Tessa asks Steph to have her BF leave the room, to which Steph replies that he is not her BF and asks the boy what he had been saying to her to make her think that. The boy says he’s been minding his business. Steph tells Tessa she is going out with them that night, but Tessa seems reluctant. The boy makes a snide comment about not being able to see her as the partying type. Tessa decides not to go. Steph and the boy get up to leave. Just as the boy is about to go out the door, he hands the book he was reading back to Tessa. He says that The Great Gatsby is a wonderful book, and he hates to spoil it for her, but it was all a dream. Tessa corrects him and says that actually, it was all a lie (important later). The boy smirks at her and leaves the room.
Tessa is shown the next day at a campus coffee shop studying. A trio of people walk in (one of them being the rude boy from her room the night before). They order their drinks and Tessa makes eye contact with the boy, and he slightly smiles. They briefly stare at each other, and he turns and walks out with his friends. Tessa goes to the library to study. She is interrupted by Steph who tells her that they are going to a party that night. Steph helps Tessa pick out her party outfit. She settles on a maroon dress.
They make their way into the frat party, and Steph meets up with Tristan in the kitchen, kissing her (she is her GF). This seems to shock Tessa slightly. They head into the living room where a group of friends lays on the couch. It is the trio from the coffee shop and another guy. Steph introduces Tessa to her friends. There is Zed (Samuel Larsen), Jace the Townie (Swen Temmel), Molly (Inanna Sarkis), and the rude boy Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin). Molly and Hardin are laying with each other on the couch and touching & kissing each other.
Zed inquires about Tessa’s major – she wants to do something business or economics related. Jace offers Tessa a drink, which she initially refuses, but takes a swig after Molly makes fun of her. Molly suggests that they play a game of Truth or Dare. Tessa says that’s a kids game, but Molly explains not the way that they play. Jace asks Tessa truth or dare, to which she chooses truth. Molly asks her where the craziest place she ever had sex was. Tessa is noticeably uncomfortable and asks to pass, and Molly picks up on it. She asks Tessa if she is a virgin. Tessa does not want to answer, so she asks for a dare. Jace dares Tessa to make out with Hardin. Hardin slowly gets up from the couch and walks over to her.
Molly starts filming the encounter on her phone. He bends down and whispers, asking her she wanted to go through with it. They both stand up and after a few seconds of them looking into each other eyes…Tessa announces she’s done playing the game and walks off. Hardin seems shocked by this, and the group teases Hardin about this being his first rejection. He turns to Molly (who is still filming) with a little look of disbelief on his face, but he slowly smiles. Tessa calls Noah outside on the porch of the party where he gets onto her about partying and drinking. She hangs up on him and heads back inside. She makes her way up the staircase and into one of the bedrooms. There is a Union Jack flag hanging on the wall and a shelf full of books. She sees a copy of Wuthering Heights with sticky notes throughout it. She opens it to one of the pages.
Just as she begins to read, she is started by Hardin who asks her what she is doing. She asks him if he is drunk, which he says he doesn’t drink…just like her. He sees that she has his copy of Wuthering Heights and recites some lines from it. He calls her Theresa and asks her if she knows it’s Bronte. She corrects him and says her name is Tessa. Hardin then asks what she is doing in his room. She seems embarrassed that she is there. He grabs hold of the book, runs it up her inner thigh using it to lift up her dress slightly and leans into her. He asks if they are still playing b/c she owes him a dare. The almost kiss before Tessa stops herself and leaves. She is shown laying in bed texting with Noah again and him apologizing for scolding her earlier…he wants what is best for her.
Tessa makes her way into a class and looks for a spot to sit. She sees Molly and Zed in the crowd and avoids them. She finds Landon in the front and joins him. They are both excited to have been allowed to take this upper-level English Course. Hardin makes his way into the classroom and sits just as Professor Soto begins talking about Pride & Prejudice. She asks Hardin what his thoughts on the book are. Tessa seems perturbed that he is in her class. Hardin says that Elizabeth Bennett gave Mr. Darcy a hard time and he wasn’t so bad. He believes that love is something that you can turn on and off, that it isn’t real. Tessa raises her hand and says that she felt the novel was ahead of its time. Hardin interjects and says that’s a load of crap. The banter back and forth in front of the classroom full of students. The disagreement has morphed into being about them and what happened between them the night before. Professor Soto ends the argument and Hardin looks pleased with himself, yet intrigued by Tessa’s tenacity. Class dismisses, and Hardin follows Tessa out of the building exclaiming how much fun that was. Tessa scolds him and says that there is nothing between them. Hardin feigns ignorance and says he was only talking about the book disagreement they just had. Hardin walks off, and Landon joins her. Tessa voices her disapproval of how arrogant Hardin is. Landon says that Hardin is just being Hardin and he knows him well. Landon’s mother is dating the University Chancellor…Chancellor Scott (who happens to be Hardin’s dad). He says that they tolerate each other.
We then see Tessa sitting at a tattoo shop while Jace inks Steph. They suggest that she gets one, but she refuses, saying her mother would kill her. She explains that her mother has her whole life planned out for and that she probably has already planned her wedding to Noah. Steph questions whether Noah is the only boy that Tessa has been with…which he is. Tessa is later shown laying in her bed as Steph and Tristan come home and start to fool around. Tessa turns over in her bed and seems lonely.
The next day, Tessa walks into the campus coffee shop and orders a drink. She notices Hardin sitting on the couch reading. Hardin approaches her as she is putting sugar in her coffee. Hardin tells her it will be difficult to stay away from each other since Steph is his friend and her roommate. He says that they should start over…just be friends. Hardin says that he wants to show her something, a place. Tessa maintains that they need to keep their distance. Hardin responds by taking a step back from her making Tessa laugh. Hardin tells her he’ll see her around and walks away disappointed. As Tessa heads for the door, she has a change of heart and decides to join him. They how them driving in his muscle car in silence stealing glances at one another. They come to a wooded area and proceed to walk to clearing with a lake. Hardin announces that this is his favorite place. He starts to take his shirt off and says that they are going swimming. Tessa seems uneasy b/c she does not have a suit. He jumps in and comments how nice the water feels. He tells her she can wear his shirt if she wants. She asks for privacy while she takes off her dress. Hardin faces away from her, sneaking a peak. He turns back around and comments that he likes his shirt better on her. He helps lower Tessa into the water, and they swim playfully. He says he enjoys the silence and they talk about he asks questions about her BF. She asks him whom he loves most in the world, and he says himself. They move closer to one another, and Tessa reminds him that they are just going to be friends. Hardin says he doesn’t think they can only be friends. They kiss each other. They get out of the lake, and he hands her back her dress and turns around so she can put it on. They are standing back to back on the dock. Just as she is about to re-dress she slowly reaches her hand back to touch his. He turns around and starts running his hands up and down her arm & chest while breathing into her ear. He lifts her shirt up to rub her stomach and puts his fingers in her panty waistline. He can tell she is nervous. He asks if she’s ever been touched before, she nods. He abruptly stops, and she turns around slightly annoyed asking him why he quit. He says that they’ve got time.
They next show Hardin and Tessa at a bar/grill. They receive their food and talk about Hardin not believing in love. She starts asking about his family, and he starts getting slightly defensive and upset. Tessa backs off. Just then Molly and Zed interrupt their conversation, and Hardin looks uneasy. Hardin tells them they were just leaving and Molly flirts with him and asks for a ride. Hardin refuses and says that Zed can take her home. Molly is touching Hardin and clearly trying to get a rise out of Tessa. Hardin hands his car keys to her and tells her to wait outside. She gets up confused and says she will be standing by the bar. Hardin, Molly, and Zed stay at the table to talk. A few mins pass and Hardin joins Tessa at the bar. Tessa asks him if he was embarrassed to be seen with her. He says that’s not the case. Tessa then says that she plans on telling Noah about the 2 of them. Hardin scoffs at her and tells her nothing is going on and that if she wants to break up with Noah, she should do it for herself…not him, b/c he doesn’t date. Tessa is shocked and angry and slams his keys on the bar top and storms out. Hardin curses to himself knowing that he messed up.
Tessa is shown going through her closet and putting on make-up. She seems like she can’t find a look that she likes. She is then shown waking up with Hardin staring down at her, caressing her face and asking what she is dreaming about…she wakes up and realizes that was a dream.
Noah comes for a surprise visit Tessa, and they go to a bonfire. Everyone meets Noah, and they sit down. Hardin is drinking, brooding and upset at seeing Noah and Tessa together. Molly suggests they play “suck and blow.” They each pass a playing card to each other mouth by mouth until Jace purposefully drops his right as Tessa leans in. Jace continues to make a pass at her, while Noah tells him to back off sheepishly. Hardin jumps off the log across the fire and punches Jace, and they begin to fight. They have pulled apart and Hardin storms off into the dark. Tessa and Noah are then laying together in her room watching TV.
Noah falls asleep, and Tessa receives a text from Landon asking for her help. Tessa arrives at Landon’s house and sees the kitchen in disarray, glasses broken. She asks what happened. Landon says that Hardin came over in rage, drunk and started smashing things. He mentioned Tessa’s name amid his tirade, and that’s why Landon texted her to come over thinking she could calm him down. Tessa heads out back to the pool area where Hardin is sitting taking shots of liquor. Hardin seems surprised to see her. She tells him she thought he didn’t drink. He says he doesn’t or didn’t. He says the mess he made inside was his celebration for his dad announcement that he is getting married to Landon’s mom while his mom lives in poor conditions in London. He offers her a drink, but she refuses to say that he probably has had enough. He drops the bottle, and it shatters. Tess bends down to pick up the glass shard against Hardin’s wishes, and she cuts her hand. He takes her upstairs to clean up her wound. Hardin seemingly tipsy apologizes for the way he treated her, he says that he thinks he has changed his mind about dating and tells her he is a mess.
Tessa says that they are both a mess and they begin to fool around. He tells her that she never has to cover up…not for him. They fall asleep next to each other. Tessa wakes in the early morning and realizes her mistake. She rushes back to her dorm where she sees Noah outside on his phone trying to reach her. He knows that something is going on, but his suspicions are confirmed when he sees Hardin walking up to them arguing. Tessa tries to explain herself, but Noah is too upset and leaves. She tells Hardin to go home and goes back up to her dorm. She tells Steph that she and Noah have just broken up and Steph consoles her.
Tessa is shown sadly walking around campus, ignoring texts from her mom about the Noah break up and Hardin asking why she won’t speak to him. She goes about her life. She shows up at Hardin’s frat house one night after he texted her to come over. They sit on the roof outside of his window and talk about her father leaving when she was little. She also talks about how bad she feels for what she did to Noah. She says that Noah is her best friend, but Hardin is so much more. We next see Tessa in the library just as it is closing. Hardin sneaks up behind her, and they hide from the security guard. Hardin reads to Tessa in the darkened, locked library. They hear the guard circling back and make a run for it and narrowly escaping trouble. They lay on the ground and hold hands, Hardin comes up behind her in a darkened astronomy class and tells her how beautiful she is. They sit in her bed and start to fool around.
Carol comes bursting through the door and becomes upset about what she has just seen. Tessa follows her mom down the hall, and they argue. Carol thinks she is making a big mistake with Hardin and worries that she is compromising her future. Tessa explains that her mother has been too controlling of her life, and she wants independence. She threatens to cut her off she continues the relationship, which Tessa refuses to end. Her mom cuts her off, and she leaves warning her daughter that Hardin will beak her heart.
Landon and Tessa discuss her getting cut off by her mother b/c of Hardin. He warns that Hardin is complicated, but Tessa says that he is different around her. Tessa is seen getting picked up outside of the coffee shop by Hardin. She inquires about where he has been, and he tells her to get in, and he will show her. He takes her to a lovely apartment in town. He has agreed to water a friend of his father’s plants while she is out of the country for a year. He mentions that they should live there together since she has been cut off. He took this plant sitting gig for Tessa. They move in, and there are scenes of them hanging together falling more in love. They go to an aquarium where Hardin is taking pictures of Tessa and the fish. He says that he can’t believe that she is his. Tessa reminds him that there is nothing that could change the way she feels about him. They go to his dad’s wedding, and Hardin is understandably tense. Tessa finally meets Landon’s mom Karen (Jennifer Beals). They take their seats, and his dad (Peter Gallagher) launches into a speech. Hardin then begins telling Tessa about why he has a problematic relationship with alcohol and his father. His father used to be a drunk who would get into shady business, fights, disagreements at bars. One night his dad messed with the wrong group of men and when they came looking for him at their home…they found his mom instead. Hardin says that he tried to fight them off, but he couldn’t stop them. Mr. Scott and Hardin are having a tense conversation that Tessa interrupts and asks Hardin to dance with her. They dance and kiss. They make it back to their apartment kissing each other as they enter. Tessa tells him that she wants him now and Hardin looks excited. They undress each other and Hardin gets a condom. He asks her if she really wants to do this and she says yes. They begin to have sex and Tessa is in a little pain since she is a virgin. Hardin asks her if she wants him to stop, but she tells him to proceed. The next day they are sitting in the bath and Hardin is drawing words on her back for her to guess. He finger traces “I LOVE U,” but she does not figure it out. He doesn’t tell her what it says.
Molly confronts Tessa in the bathroom after class and asks her about her BF. Tessa tells her that they broke up. Molly says that it looks like she moves on quickly and that Hardin said to her that they had been spending time together. Tessa confirms that they had been spending time together and Molly said she’s glad, much to Tessa’s surprise. Molly says that Hardin does what Hardin does.
Tessa is reading a book in their apartment when Hardin’s phone keeps getting texts. Tessa picks up his phone and sees that they are from Molly. Molly tells Hardin to meet them at a bar at 9, asks if he said Tessa yet, and then says maybe she will tell Tessa. Hardin walks in the room, and Tessa confronts him about the texts. Hardin says he has no idea what Molly is talking about and then says he is leaving. Tessa gets upset that he is leaving in the middle of their argument, but Hardin asks if she trusts him and she does. Tessa is sitting at home later that night, and Hardin won’t return her texts. She gets a text from Jace telling her to meet him at another bar, and he will tell her where Hardin is. She arrives and sees Hardin’s card. She gets into it, but it is Jace inside. She demands to know where Jace is. He tells her maybe he is at Bob’s. She walks in and sees Molly, Zed, Steph eating at a table. She approaches them, and Steph says she hasn’t seen her since she moved out. Tessa tells that group that she has been living with Hardin off campus and Molly gives her a look. They all look confused about how serious their relationship is. Jace walks in with Hardin who looks mortified and scared that Tessa is there.
Jace fist bumps Molly and says he’s got her back. Molly starts telling Hardin how Tessa has been giving them all the details about their relationship and how adorable they are. She asks Hardin if there’s anything he wants to tell Tessa. Tessa interjects and asks him if anything is going on between him and Molly. Hardin denies this. Tessa doesn’t believe him, and she says that she saw the texts. Hardin says they meant nothing to him, and he didn’t even reply back. Molly asks Hardin if he thinks this thing has gone a little too far. She explains that something is going on, but it’s not what she thinks (referring to Tessa believing that he and Molly have been cheating with each other). Hardin tells Molly to shut up and asks Tessa to leave with him so he can explain. Molly asks Tessa if she remembers Truth or Dare. Hardin and Zed try to stop Molly, but she pulls out her phone showing Tessa a video of the night that she rejected Hardin. After Tessa had stormed out of the room, Hardin says a has a new dare…that he can get Tessa to fall in love with him and then turn it off as he snaps his fingers. Hardin starts to cry, while Molly tells her it was all a game.
Hardin says that this was recorded before everything before he got to know her. Tessa looks around the table at everyone asking if it is true. They all avoid eye contact. Tessa gets up from the table and storms out with Hardin following behind her. They argue in the rain, and she calls him a liar. He tells her that all of this was before and she cuts him off saying it was before he snapped his fingers and turned it off. Hardin brings up the fact that she told him that nothing could change how she felt about him to which Tessa says they are both liars. She runs off into the night while Hardin cries in the rain.
Tessa gets on a bus and goes back home, she makes up with her mom and goes to apologize to Noah. Noah tells her it’s ok b/c college is about finding yourself, and people change. They decide to remain friends. She heads back to school and moves back into the dorm. She goes to classes while Hardin sits in his room looking sad reminiscing about the first night they almost kissed. She applies for an internship she learned about fro Chancellor Scott and is invited for an interview.
On the last day of class, Professor Soto is dismissing everyone. She asks for Tessa to stay behind and gives her Hardin’s final project saying that it was meant more for her. She debates with Landon whether or not she should open it. When she finally does, she sees pictures of her and the lake. She reads his essay about love and decides to go to the lake where they shared their first kiss. In a voice-over, Hardin is talking about how he has found his Elizabeth Bennett and how their souls are one and the same. He asks for forgiveness. He appears behind her and sits down next to her on the dock. The voiceover continues with Hardin saying that she had once asked him whom he loved the most in this world, and he says it’s you. They look at each other.
Hardin (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) made a bet with his friends that he could seduce and make Tessa (Josephine Langford) fall in love with him after she rejected him at the party.
They break up and he writes his English paper about their love.
They meet at the dock at the end of the movie insinuating she forgives him.