Looking back at old tapes of past family holidays can be one of the most heartwarming things you can do. Hell, just even videos of pastimes with family, whatever the occasion may be, can be so therapeutic to watch. Charlotte Wells takes this idea and applies it with a very different intention in Aftersun, marking her feature film debut with a quite beautiful film.

Sophie (Frankie Corio) reflects on the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday she took with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal), twenty years earlier. Memories real and imagined fill the gaps between as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn't.
There's a deftness to the touch of Charlotte Wells as a filmmaker, both in her writing and directing, that makes Aftersun quite a stunning feature debut. She doesn't spell things out for the audience so clearly, asking them to engage in the father-daughter relationship depicted to allow them to piece together the fragments of said relationship and what it all means. Past memories play out as normal but also through the lens of a camera with Sophie trying to capture moments to remember with her father. It's a great way to frame things as these scenes open a new window into their relationship with Sophie wanting to have fun while Calum seems to have other things on his mind.

Mental health is such an important topic in today's world and Wells deals with the damage it can do, particularly within an adult male where silence is usually the way problems are dealt with, in a sensitive manner. Calum clearly has issues from his past playing on his mind and the fact we don't hear what they are hits hard. If you are struggling with anything just know that there are people who will listen and you are definitely not alone.
The dynamic shared between Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio is something I fell in love with while watching Aftersun. Wells avoids making this a melodramatic piece of work, instead opting for an authenticity that certainly works as a strength for the film. The pair excel in the roles too, Mescal impressing with moments of melancholy and also the duties of a father to embarrass their daughter, while Corio has such a fun presence as the daughter trying to enjoy the time with her father.

Aftersun is a film I missed at the London Film Festival and was just dying to see with the word of mouth being nothing but great about it. It certainly lives up to expectations and introduces the world to an exciting new filmmaker in the shape of Charlotte Wells.

Verdict: ½


Popular Posts