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Film Review: Aftersun (2022)

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★

Available on: Prime Video or Mubi | Runtime: 1hr 42 mins

 

Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells delivers a melancholic and introspective feature film debut with Aftersun, an artistic impressionistic drama that focuses on the shared inner world and fractured connection between a young girl and her father during a summer vacation. Somber yet visually enthralling, this is a carefully observed portrayal of the joys and heartbreak of parenthood and childhood.

At the center of the story is 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio), on holiday with her young dad Calum (Paul Mescal) at a Turkish beach resort in the late 1990s. Through home video snippets and Sophie’s hazy recollections two decades later, a tender but complex father-daughter relationship unfolds, as we learn of Calum’s playfulness and hints of inner turmoil beneath the surface.


Mescal delivers an understated yet powerful performance, capturing a father’s small joys and quiet pain with nuance and emotional depth. Young Corio is a revelation, her wide-eyed gaze and small gestures hinting at Sophie’s dawning awareness of her father’s vulnerabilities. Their easy rapport filled with fun pool games, dance parties, and meaningful conversations creates an authentic father-daughter dynamic.

Wells deftly blends melancholy and joy, with sunny beach scenes intercut with more somber moments in hotel rooms and clubs. The film’s fractured timeline and dreamlike visuals, awash in golden light and blurred backgrounds, evoke the ephemeral magic of childhood memories tinged with adult perspective.


Aftersun is an assured and deeply affecting feature debut exploring the complexities of parenting and childhood. Carried by Mescal and Corio’s nuanced performances and Wells’ lyrical vision, this is an emotionally resonant portrait of a father-daughter relationship and the bittersweet nature of memory itself.



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