Release Date: 10/21/22 [BFI London Film Festival]
"In 2010, the women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Based on the novel by Miriam Toews."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
In her first foray as a full-length feature film director, Charlotte Wells hits a high that’s tough to top. Aftersun is the story of a woman forced to reckon with the fading memory of her father, and all the emotional baggage that comes with it. The drama stars Paul Mescal (Normal People) and first-time actress Frankie Corio; and its blend of innocence, hopelessness. sweetness and despair renders feelings that are, frankly, hard to put into words. It’s a movie that’s not so much watched – but felt.
The plot centers around 11-year-old Sophie (Corio) and her young, single father Calum (Mescal) as they holiday together at a resort. While there, Sophie hangs out with older kids, signs up for a karaoke contest, and even shares her first kiss with a boy she meets playing video games. All the while, Calum is visibly wrestling with inner demons – and dutifully documenting the pair’s trip with a camcorder.
The movie shifts between a traditional narrative style and grainy VHS footage and creates a nostalgic, melancholic experience for ‘90s kids (we even get a cameo from Chumbawamba’s ‘Tubthumping’ and ‘The Macarena’). It’s heart-achingly quiet; with its most impactful moments happening when there’s no dialogue at all.
We’re never explicitly told what happens between Sophie and her father after their holiday concludes, and we don’t need to be – it’s easy to fill in the blanks. Aftersun is not an easy watch, and it’s one that requires a good amount of patience and care to understand the subtle, metaphoric imagery Wells sprinkles throughout. It’s beautiful, haunting, and it will stick with you long after you watch it.