“After Everything” is about two different people who happen to have a romantic relationship via sudden illness. When they talk with each other for the first time, something clicks between them, and then they come to closer to each other when one of them gets very sick, but they do not expect that their relationship will be tested by not only that illness but also other matters in their relationship. As watching them going up and down in their accidental relationship, the movie gives us several bittersweet moments to touch us, and the result is a little intimate drama too good to be overlooked.
In the beginning, the movie succinctly establishes the mundane daily life of Elliott (Jeremy Allen White), a young man who has tried to develop some application software but has instead been aimlessly stuck with working as a sandwich shop employee in New York City with his best friend/roommate Nico (DeRon Horton). During the opening scene, he and Nico are enjoying their another carefree evening outside, and that lively moment is soon followed by his incidental encounter with a woman with whom he subsequently come to have a little fun private time.
And that is when he feels that something is not right in his certain body part. While worrying not much, Elliott goes to a local hospital, but then he gets a bad news after medical examination. He turns out to have a rare type of cancer around his pelvis, and, though it seems his tumor has not advanced into malignant state yet, but he cannot help but nervous and depressed as becoming more aware of his mortality than before.
Meanwhile, he encounters a young woman named Mia (Maika Monroe) at a subway station, and he recognizes that she is one of regular customers of his sandwich shop. When he approaches to her, Mia does not seem particularly interested in getting to know Elliott at first, but they soon find themselves having a small interesting conversation, and they come to feel mutual attraction between them before Mia eventually leaves to get on a subway.
As thinking about this brief encounter between them later, Mia decides to see Elliott again, and they have their first date. As they spend more time together, they becomes more comfortable with each other, and Elliott eventually confides to Mia about his serious illness even though they are ‘semi-strangers’ to each other. While quite surprised by his revelation, Mia feels sorry for Elliott, and she comes to stand besides him because she sees that he really needs help and support.
She turns out to be a good supporter. When they visit Elliott’s parents together, Elliott still hesitates to talk about his illness in front of his parents, so Mia delivers that bad news to his parents instead, and Elliott surely appreciates her help. Once his chemotherapy session begins, he becomes quite more fragile physically and psychologically, and he later asks Mia to leave him after he is notified that his illness is worse than expected, but Mia does not give him up at all.
While never overlooking Elliott’s grim medical condition, the movie brings some humor and sensitivity to its story and characters. There is a humorous scene where Elliott imagines being with Mia when he needs sperms to be stored just in case, and there is also a sweet and cheerful sequence which shows Elliott and Mia doing many several things he wants to do before his important surgery. They have a threesome sex with some girl they happen to come across at a bar, and, right before the surgery, they have a shotgun wedding because, well, they love each other more than before as sticking together in front of his illness.
In the end, things get better to everyone’s relief. Elliott comes to enter remission stage, and he and Mia subsequently move together into a new place to live. Studying more on software coding, Elliott tries to get back on his normal life, and Mia becomes quite busy due to a new job which is more exciting and fulfilling than her previous one.
However, we soon observe how their relationship becomes more distant and estranged. As what once held them together is being gone, Mia and Elliott often conflict with each other, and there eventually comes a painful moment when they come to face a hard truth about their relationship, which is indeed special to each other but should have been based on more trust and understanding from the start.
Under the good direction of directors/writers Hannah Marks and Joey Power, two lead performers of the film give engaging performances which present their characters as flawed but likable human characters to watch. While Jeremy Allen White is believable in his character’s dramatic arc, Maika Monroe, who was memorable in “It Follows” (2014), effectively complements her co-performer, and they ably carry the film through their good chemistry on the screen.
Although it is entirely not without flaws and I am a bit disappointed with the under-utilization of its notable supporting cast members including DeRon Horton, Sasha Lane, Gina Gershon, Dean Winters, and Marisa Tomei, “After Everything”, which was originally titled as “Shotgun”, still works thanks to its strong emotional center held well by its two lead performers, and its last shot is particularly touching to me. They will never go back to where they were, but they do come to learn a bit about life and themselves at least, you know.