Nostalgia for sandy skin and the smell of suncream reach an all-time high in this glorious and emotional film from writer and director Charlotte Wells. Aftersun follows Sophie who is reminiscing about the last holiday she spent with her devoted father 20 years ago, coming to terms with the man she didn’t always know.
Even though we see the joint holiday of a father and daughter through their camcorder and captured moments, this film presents us with two stories. We learn about Calum, played remarkably by Paul Mescal, a loving father about to turn 30 and wondering about his hopes and purpose in life. Throughout the film, there are lines joking about age, his relationship with his daughter and how he didn’t think he would make it to this next milestone age. He’s restless and unsure, wanting the best for his daughter with the worry that may not be him.
On the other side of this we have Sophie. At age 11 she is played by the cheeky and heart-warming Frankie Corio who brilliantly showcases what it truly feels like to be that age. You want your own space away from embarrassment and rules, and to put what you’ve learnt over the years to the test. She loves her dad and spending time with him but wants to be in a bikini with the older kids.
As an audience, we truly relate to both characters with the need to grow up but also protect. The way their bond and relationship iswritten made me laugh and nearly cry at times. It was so real, echoing what we feel with our own parental figures. The script and direction come together beautifully, intercutting the holiday with flashes of the present-day showing Sophie looking back on this holiday. We never learn why but we’re able to assume or just join her in the love and light of this trip abroad years prior. For me, what really made this film special was the colours and shooting style. We step into a dreamy postcard where even the dark doesn’t feel dangerous. Sure, there are moments on edge, but we are never taken away from the importance of family and the care we receive from those people.
I highly recommend watching Aftersun as soon as you can. It’s warming and true to life, leaving you thinking about childhood and sacrifice in the most remarkable way.
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