The beginning was quite rushed so their relationship was not developed well. One second they meet each other and the next they are already at the lake ... and anyone who has seen the movie or read the book knows what happens at the lake; it was all too fast for me to truly feel happy and excited that they are finally getting together.
The movie was oddly PG. Anyone who has read the books will know that the books are a lot more passionate. It is confusing as to why a story about college students is kept so PG when college students in general aren't PG. They adapted a very intimate and non-PG book into a PG movie, which many who read the book might be disappointed by, as I was.
This is an oddly specific bone to pick, but: I felt the placement of the scene where they argue in class over Elizabeth Bennet came too soon. They are in essence arguing about Tessa being interested in Hardin, but by then that didn't seem like an issue. Perhaps this scene would have made more sense being after the lake and restaurant scene where she does confront him about whether he is embarrassed to be seen with her. But, what is done is done.
Lastly, the movie did not portray the essence of the love-hate relationship in the book. Where was Hardin's jealousy and possessiveness? Where was Tessa's attitude towards Hardin? They tried to capture the complicated nature of Hardin's character when he tells the story of his drunken father and his mother whilst at his dad's wedding, but there was no development on this - I didn't see emphasis on the relationship issues he seemed to have in the book. Also, in the book I myself had a love-hate relationship with Hardin's character, but in the movie I simply just enjoyed looking at Hero Fiennes-Tiffin considering how good looking he is.
All in all, it was still an enjoyable movie and I could tell a lot of hard work went into it. The movie was beautiful to watch, especially the lake scene and the bathtub scene (which was an especially cute scene). I also have appreciation for the attention to consent and safe sex practices. Casting was done well; Josephine Langford (Tessa) and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin (Hardin) we're extremely well suited to their characters, but I feel they could have done more with their characters if they were given the opportunity.
The romantic scenes were cute and made me smile, but the movie lacked the deeper layer that the book has about how complicated people can be, and the message of learning to love someone despite their flaws as well as trying to be a better person for the one you love. Considering Ana Todd (the author of After) was on set all the time, I am confused as to why she allowed the movie to stray so far from the core messages of the book.
Small details of the book were included and did leave a smile on my face when they came up as they reminded me of the effect the book initially had on me, but the bigger-picture messages and themes of the book seemed missing.
Viewers who have not read the book may be confused by the fast pace, as I used a lot of my knowledge from the book to fill in gaps.
Reading the book does cloud my judgement, so I would like to emphasize that it was still a good movie which I plan to rewatch many times.
Should you watch this movie? Yes.
Do I want a sequel? Yes; I am hoping much of what was left out in this movie was because they plan to make a sequel, one which is more passionate and explores the complicated nature of Hardin and Tessa. The movie did not have the same effect on me as the book did, but I would still watch it again and tell others to watch it.