A young father named Calum (Paul Mescal) and his daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) take a nice holiday vacation in the summertime during Sophie’s Eleventh year. Sophie and her father decide to capture this holiday through a series of video diaries throughout their stay in hopes to keep remembrance of this exact moment in time. Sophie asks her father, “When you were 11, what do you think you would be doing now”? This question could seem innocent coming from a young child, but her father is taken aback. An upcoming series of flashing scenes indicate some form of a party before we are then transported back to the beginning of this holiday vacation, and we are given a glimpse at what may be one of the best vacations in Sophie’s life unfold.
Every so often a film like Aftersun leaps out at me from behind the shadows, and I’m neither emotionally available for it, or prepared for the ride in the same way that a person may not be prepared for the first drop in the beginning of a rollercoaster. What would normally be an intimate look at a normal father-daughter vacation, becomes a wave of emotions at their peak crescendo just before crashing against the shore of a beach. At its core, this is a film about a simple holiday between a father and a daughter. Calum and Sophie share a really deep connection with each other from the start of the film, and this vacation serves as a vessel to deepen their bond with each other. Throughout the swift duration of the film, I kept asking myself; Something bad is on the horizon, what could it be? What kind of heartbreak am I preparing for? Luckily by the end, it wasn't the sort of heartbreak I was expecting, but there still wasn’t a dry eye as the credits rolled.
Newcomer director Charlotte Wells is able to capture such a finite pristine moment in time that could only make someone harken back to their own childhood vacations or moments they have shared with their own parents or family members that they were close to growing up. What could be considered as mundane moments throughout the film are so much more intimate due to the camera angles and direction and I couldn’t help but keep my eyes off the screen. Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio know how to steal your attention, and that was clear from the first 10 minutes of the film. We drift from seeing Sophie being captivated by a young boy during an early afternoon playing arcade games, to simply having a dinner with her father Calum who decides to dine-and-dash; you as the viewer are simply authorized the opportunity to watch from a distance like a fly on the wall as two family members enjoy the next several days of bliss to enjoy with themselves.
This film couldn’t possibly feel any more personal, as I couldn’t think of any other film that is so deeply involved in a normal series of events that could have happened to anyone. The cinematography knew how to capture the right moments throughout as well, panning from simply sleeping in their hotel room on the first night and hearing Sophie’s light breathing, to the gorgeous cliffside off the resort as we see the waves brush against the beachside at the shore. One thing was very clear while watching; the only thing we needed to focus on was the relationship that these two shared, and what could possibly have been Sophie’s best vacation she ever spent with her father.
Aftersun knows how to respect your time, and in my opinion is an absolute must see film in any way you can. I never once thought a film about a small family vacation could send me through the whirlwind of emotions it did by the end, but this film did it in spades. From the performances, to the cinematography, to the ability to capture the feeling of being young and old at the same time; this film is incredible, and should be watched by anyone who needs a good pick-me-up in their life.
Rating: 100/100 PERCENT SCORE!
Written By: Dimitreus Newell