The romantic indie drama After Everything is a bit of a struggle. There’s some truly striking material, less in the story of Elliot’s (Jeremy Allen White) battle with cancer and whirlwind romance with Mia (Maika Monroe) that begins just after he receives his diagnosis, and more in the film’s exploration of the complications of first love. Unfortunately, directors Hannah Marks and Joey Power’s treatment of all this seems constrained. An hour and a half is a slim amount of time to tell a story as expansive as the one at the core of After Everything. The life and death of a relationship, let alone one centered on a cancer diagnosis, is heavy stuff. Despite Elliot’s illness being central to the couple’s experience, the film’s rapid pace almost makes it an afterthought.
White and Monroe are terrific — their relationship, as well as its dissolution, is completely believable — but they’re limited by a script full of old tropes (“funny” roommates, parents doing their best to stay hip). There’s also an off-putting queasiness to the way they first meet: He keeps talking to her despite the fact that she has headphones on — and she keeps putting them back on, telling him that she’s trying to listen to a podcast. (Were I in her shoes, I would have moved away from him. If a woman doesn’t want to talk, she doesn’t want to talk!) That move sets the whole film off on an odd foot, from which it never quite recovers.