Aftersun (2022)

Aftersun (2022)

2022 R 101 Minutes


Sophie reflects on the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday she took with her father twenty years earlier. Memories real and imagined fill the gaps between miniDV footage as she tries to...

Overall Rating

7 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: Charlotte Wells' 'Aftersun,' may follow an eleven year old girl called Sophie (Frankie Corio) and her young father Calum (Paul Mescal) on a two-week holiday in Turkey, but more than anything it's a film about perspectives.

    We begin very literally from the point of view of Sophie with her video camera, and after a short clip, we follow her intently as they arrive at the hotel and she goes to bed full of excitement for the weeks ahead with her Dad. The camera then slowly pans to him on the balcony silently displaying a pent-up energy and frustration as he smokes a cigarette. As their holiday continues, we see Sophie having fun with him and the pair of them joking together, but we also begin to see things from what appears to be his perspective. Strange dreams, and glimpses of his self-destructive tendencies and depressive episodes not only make us nervous for Sophie's safety, but also have us feeling for him and longing to understand his struggles.

    Whilst that's bubbling away in the background, we also see Sophie opening her eyes to adulthood by witnessing groups of teens at the hotel talk about sex, and that's a fascinating, somewhat heart-wrenching thing to watch as she begins to consider that world and her place within it. Beyond that though, she also starts asking her Dad questions about his separation with her Mum and his girlfriends since, and that theme about realisation of adulthood comes full circle at the end as we cut to Sophie decades later watching the holiday footage - a moment which, in many ways, reframes the perspective of the entire film.

    From there, you come to realise that the dream sequences are actually hers, and the perspective shift also makes you contemplate how much of her father's struggles she was aware of at the time, and how much she's embellishing and imagining now that she has the context of his eventual fate and her own adulthood to compare him to. That's a brilliantly thought-provoking thing, but it only translates so successfully because the pair and their relationship feel so real.

    On the one hand Wells' dialogue is just so perfectly naturalistic. Characters talk like they really would; Sophie etching away at her dad's layers without ever asking him outright, and him portraying most of his struggles completely non-verbally. That frees both actors up to deliver beautifully human, nuanced performances, and they're captured wonderfully not only by the handheld video camera footage, but also by Wells' camera itself which rarely frames things formally and instead often challenges your eye to focus on whatever it chooses. All of that allows us to study and pick away at two characters brilliantly organically, and all the while wonder how much they're understanding about each other.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There are times when the camera lingers over things for a simply unnecessary length of time - a problem that often plagues short-film directors looking to expand their ideas to a feature length.

    VERDICT: Charlotte Wells' 'Aftersun,' uses its expert camerawork and naturalistic character portrayals to brilliantly and deliberately get you to think about what a father and daughter are seeing from each other's perspectives.