Twenty years after their final trip to a dilapidated resort, Sophie remembers the precious time she had with her idealistic and loving father Calum. At age 11, when maturity begins to encroach on Sophie’s world, Calum struggles with life without being a father. As Sophie struggles to make sense of the father she knew and the father she didn’t, her memories take on a dramatic and heartbreaking depiction of their relationship.
Aftersun Cast :
Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Brooklyn Toulson, Sally Messham, Harry Perdios
Aftersun Release date:
21 October 2022
Aftersun Trailer :
Aftersun Review :
A decade from now, when Sight & Sound release yet another collection of “the greatest films of all-time” — inevitably pissing a lot of people off — (I think) Aftersun has the best odds at making the list from last year’s class of films. It’s such a powerful, meditative force of emotional evocation. Never does it manipulate the audience to feel something, with Charlotte Wells slowly and organically building emotional tension as the audience connects everything. Its emotional climax couldn’t be further understated in presentation, but no film has bled more emotion and tears from my eyes. I felt that crushing loss of Calum’s inevitable disappearance, and I completely sympathized with the frustration an older Sophie — who is barely shown on screen — feels knowing her recollections of her father are the only things she can grasp. What I didn’t notice, however, until the third viewing, was the consistent reuse and recontextualization of certain details. These details often juxtapose each other at all times but are so subtle and rewarding that even something like a carpet or a “happy birthday” can drive some deep-rooted emotion out of me.
Aftersun is one of those films that as you leave the cinema, get into your car, and on the drive home, you just sit there in silence reflecting on what you’ve just experienced. It makes you feel so many emotions and sadness probably being at the forefront. That’s why this film is number 1 for me out of all of the 2022 releases. As much as I loved films like Everything Everywhere all at Once and the Banshees of Inisherin, those films didn’t quite effect me in the same way that this film did (both are fantastic films by the way so check them out as well if you haven’t). The performances by both Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio were fantastic and for a directorial debut, Charlotte Wells does a phenomenal job. 5/5 for me
Like any good pseudo intellectual, I don’t mind a slow film and I’m endlessly patient if I think the film maker has something important to say about the human condition. So I didn’t panic when Aftersun failed to land any significant blows in the first half an hour. Fear not, I thought, they’re “laying pipe” (I think that’s the term film makers use !), but the truth is that Ms Well’s doesn’t really want to tell us what the film is about. A few elements of plot and character are put out there, but not in any coherent way that really allows us to understand what is going on. We have an 11 year old girl on the cusp of sexual awareness, a father who is clearly disturbed, but how and why we can only guess at. There is no plot, per se, just a series of events that happened during a holiday twenty years ago and we are supposed to work out what it means. The holiday scenes are interspersed with chaotic episodes that seem to feature the main characters in a nightclub and remind me of those awful psychedelic films of the late sixties that were saved only by the Pink Floyd sound track. Some of what we are told makes little sense. We see the 11 year old Sophie watching the sexual antics of older, straight teenagers with interest and her first kiss with a boy. Then we see the grown Sophie in bed with a woman. Very a la mode, but what happened ? How did this come to pass ? I was expecting some plot device to explain how her life turned out. An assault during the long gone holiday ? Something that would make sense of the whole. But this movie maker doesn’t do denouements. The only thing I took from this film was that we never really understand even those who are closest to us, including our parents. And I think I worked that out for myself some years ago. Or perhaps Aftersun is a Post-Modern, existential manifesto ? Life has no “narrative”, or “truth”. Just events. Phenomena. Things happen, sometimes bad things, but don’t look for meaning. Why not, it’s as good an explanation of Aftersun as any other you will read ? Must also add that if this film is ever shown in North America it will need sub titles. I’m a Brit and pretty comfortable with even the strongest Scottish accents, but the diction is poor at times and I missed some of the mumbled lines. Reading the reviews of others, all of whom seem to think this is a masterpiece, it would seem that deliberately refusing to tell the audience what is going on makes this a wonderful film, rather than a somewhat confusing mess. Odd.