Time: 101 Minutes
Paul Mescal as Calum Paterson
Frankie Corio as Sophie Paterson
Director: Charlotte Wells
Twenty years after their last holiday at a fading vacation resort, Sophie reflects on the rare time spent with her loving and idealistic father Calum. At 11-years-old, as the world of adolescence creeps into Sophie’s view, Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Sophie’s recollections become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.
I heard of Aftersun as being one of the most acclaimed movies of the year and one that I needed to check out. I only knew a little bit about it, and I wasn’t certain about how I would find it. Turns out that I ended up liking it more than I thought.
I was a little cautious going into Aftersun because I heard that it was a slice of life and coming of age movie. There have been many recent movies in those genres which have received critical acclaim and love that I just couldn’t get into, so I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be another one of those cases. However, Aftersun turned out to be an exception, and I found myself being really into it. If I had to guess, the gentle, subtle and personal approach might’ve made it work for me. Aftersun at its core is about a woman looking back decades later when she was a girl spending her last holiday with her father in Turkey. Admittedly, not a whole lot happens in the plot and it is slow to start, but over time, characters and details begin to reveal themselves. It is very light on plot, with it just following these characters on their holiday. As I said earlier, the approach to the story and characters are very subtle and aims to be relatable, there aren’t any dramatic moments, outbursts or long revealing monologues. That helped to pull me into the film more as it felt more real. This isn’t a movie that explains everything to you; you don’t understand the full context about the situation or what is happening with certain characters, but there’s enough implications from actions taken, information conveyed and reactions to help you form answers for yourself to fill in the gaps. It captures the sense of childlike innocence in many of the scenes, but with an undercurrent of profound sadness.
One of the main highlights of the film are the outstanding performances from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio, they’re among the best of the year. They fully became their roles and were believable as father and daughter, especially with their convincing chemistry.
This is a great directorial debut from Charlotte Wells, very well assured and excellently made. The cinematography is very stunning and naturalistic with lots of long takes, showcasing the location of Turkey well. It also does well at conveying the story through visuals alone with how it captures characters feelings and actions or focuses on object, even sometimes choosing to show things through reflections. The shots really do stick with you. The editing is outstanding and there are some very well done sequences, the standouts being a couple involving iconic songs which are among my standout scenes from this year.
Aftersun is a contemplative, quiet, moving and intimate drama, excellently directed, beautifully shot, and with phenomenal performances from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio. It’s one of the year’s best and is well worth checking out.