Aftersun (2022)

This is one of 2022’s finest films and an extraordinary feature debut—as far as stories about father-daughter relationships are concerned, this incredibly nuanced drama finds that rare pitch-perfect tone of joy and melancholy that must be savoured. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Review #2,479

Dir. Charlotte Wells
2022 | UK | Drama | 101 min | 1.85:1 | English
Not rated – likely to be NC16 for sexual references

Cast: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio, Celia Rowlson-Hall
Plot:
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 as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.
Awards:
Won French Touch Prize of the Critics’ Week Jury & Nom. for Camera d’Or (Cannes)
International Sales: Charades

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Father-Daughter Relationship; Memories; Childhood
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Screener
Spoilers: No


Aftersun is truly one of the best films of 2022, premiering at Cannes to rather quiet acclaim—hopefully it gets more traction and exposure as this is one of the great debut features of recent years. 

Modern dramas about fathers and daughters have come and gone over the years, but few have come as close to perfection as this modest but enormously affecting memory piece. 

Time is the great distance that separates the fine line between remembering and imagining one’s loved ones, as an adult Sophie tries to recollect a trip to Turkey she went with her father (divorced at the time) when she was eleven. 

“When you were eleven, what did you think you would be doing now?”

Writer-director Charlotte Wells executes her film with a soft, sensitive touch, as if we are experiencing a dream of a distant (core) memory, made with incredible nuance and intimacy that is reminiscent of films like Celine Sciamma’s Petite Maman (2021). 

Paul Mescal is fantastic as the emotionally vulnerable father who puts up a joyful front for his daughter.  The scene-stealer, however, is no doubt, Francesca Corio in her first acting performance, whose portrayal of young Sophie is as endearing as they come as far as breakout child actors are concerned. 

Wells finds that rare pitch-perfect tone of joy and melancholy in Aftersun, but more fascinatingly, locates a certain specificity of experience that Sophie was privy to, one that the filmmaker captures so vividly through sound design and cinematography, be it via long takes or unorthodox visual compositions.  The result is akin to watching a private mental diary unfold—it’s very personal, poetic and so bittersweet.

Grade: A


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