Aftersun (2022) Film Review

And Corio is a genuine find. A real movie presence her scenes, whether alone or with Mescal, are so genuine, so early teenage years that we immediately fall in love with her. And yet, there is a knowingness about her character. In some of their many scenes together she comes across as the more adult of the pair. She is the one who can sense the family dynamics (mom checks up on them occasionally in the local phone booth – it’s pre-cell phones). She is the one who can sense how unhappy her dad is and that all may not be well in his world.

In Charlotte Wells’s haunting memory piece, we follow eleven-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) and her dad Calum (Paul Mescal) on a trip from their native Scotland to a resort town on the Turkish coast sometime in the late nineties. They are having fun but there is a weariness about Calum, a weariness that is out-of-step with his youthful appearance (most people think they are brother and sister).

Wells’s grasp of the medium is so assured it’s hard to believe this is her first feature. She reminds me of another Welles……. but that was a long time ago! Her camera angles, camera movement, and editing (kudos to cinematographer Gregory Oke and editor Blair McClendon) are evidence of a major new talent and the direction of her two leading actors is inspired. Mescal who was so good in TV’s “Normal People” and gave strong support in “The Lost Daughter” becomes a bone fide star with this movie.

Aftersun

And Corio is a genuine find. A real movie presence her scenes, whether alone or with Mescal, are so genuine, so early teenage years that we immediately fall in love with her. And yet, there is a knowingness about her character. In some of their many scenes together she comes across as the more adult of the pair. She is the one who can sense the family dynamics (mom checks up on them occasionally in the local phone booth – it’s pre-cell phones). She is the one who can sense how unhappy her dad is and that all may not be well in his world.

Wells embellishes this by flash-forwarding to a dance floor (a rave) maybe 10 or15 years in the future where Calum is on the dance floor (he loves to dance) and an adult Sophie, who is now in a relationship and is the mother of a young baby, is very angry with him about something. These scenes, which are edited to the beat of the music, with Calum’s face only glimpsed briefly when he is illuminated by a strobe light, could have been intrusive. However, because the viewer is already aware that something is not quite right with Calum, the scenes become an extension of our thoughts, of our fears.

“Aftersun” is an unforgettable movie. Proustian in being both a remembrance of things past and a search of lost time, it’s one of the best films of 2022.

NOW SHOWING AT SELECT MOVIE THEATRES
NOW STREAMING ON AMAZON PRIME AND APPLE TV+

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