Even though a health crisis is at the center of this relationship-driven dramedy, After Everything is as far from a Nicholas Sparks film as it gets.
Elliott (Jeremy Allen White) works behind a sandwich counter with his roommate and best friend, Nico (DeRon Horton). It’s all fun and games for the two of them–drinking or getting high–until Elliott learns he is suffering from a rare diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma. There’s a lot of nitty-gritty detail about the disease but that’s beside the point. Elliott fights the battle along side Mia (Maika Monroe) following their humorous meet-cute at New York subway station. Knowing that he’s sick, he asks her out and the two soon begin a relationship.
It’s Mia who is sitting right by him when Elliott breaks down while telling his parents, Paul (Bill Sage) and Celia (Callie Thorne), the news. It’s Elliott who goes with Mia when she goes to visit her mother, Tracy (Gina Gershon), and her new boyfriend, Blake (Dean Winters).
When Elliott is advised to bank his sperm, typical pornographic magazines don’t work. As a result, he starts fantasizing about Mia. If the film didn’t have such a serious tone, this sort of move wouldn’t work.
With the two of them being so young and Elliott’s life in peril, they start a bucket list. This paves the way for their engagement and a four-month time jump. Mia is back at work while Elliott’s a lazy bum on the couch. She’s out making money while he’s playing video games. It’s because of this that the marriage is ultimately doomed..
The filmmakers make sure that Elliott’s cancer isn’t a gimmick. Much to the credit of co-directors/screenwriters Hannah Marks and Joey Power, Shotgun does not contain any of the melodrama that Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations are known for. While Elliott’s illness, Ewing’s sarcoma, does happen to play a large role in the film, it plays in a way that is similar to that of Emily’s illness in The Big Sick. If they had made the cancer a gimmick or prop, the emotional impact wouldn’t hit in the same way.
Elliott and Mia have to grow in a big way once Dr. Lisa Harden (Maria Tomei) delivers the unfortunate diagnoses. After Everything, as a whole, is a film that makes or breaks on the heels of their performances. If their chemistry didn’t work, the film would have surely faltered. To their credit though, both Jeremy and Maika have great chemistry on screen.
After Everything is a solid feature directorial debut for co-directors Hannah Marks and Joey Power. The film doesn’t go for all-out tearjerker in a way that one would expect tend to expect a Nicholas Sparks film. One has to be able to find humor while battling a serious illness and that’s exactly what happens with this film.
DIRECTORS/SCREENWRITERS: Hannah Marks and Joey Power
CAST: Maika Monroe, Jeremy Allen White, DeRon Horton, Marisa Tomei, Sasha Lane, Joe Keery, Gina Gershon, Dean Winters, Olivia Luccardi