starring: paul mescal, frankie corio, celia rowlson-hall, and sally messham
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Sophie reflects on the shared joy and private melancholy of a holiday she took with her father twenty years earlier.
At a fading vacation resort, 11-year-old Sophie treasures rare time together with her loving and idealistic father, Calum (Paul Mescal). As a world of adolescence creeps into view, beyond her eye Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Twenty years later, Sophie's tender recollections of their last holiday become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn't.
Director Charlotte Wells’ directorial debut isn’t a bombastically told tale but one that takes its time, that lingers on seemingly insignificant moments, which builds, piece by piece the character study that is Aftersun.
And within its flashbacks, that neither direct or demand from the audience, the gold and themes are to be found. The deceptive nature of memory, the search for meaning and connection, and the beginnings of adolescence all wrapped up in a film that is masterfully constructed. Using particular motifs, edited together to depict the journey of both protagonists, is dream-like at times while still completely immersing the audience right into the depths of the story and life of the characters.
Paul Mescal more than deserves his Oscar nomination for his performance here. After his breakout role in the smash hit mini series Normal People, it was obvious to see that Mescal has a real knack of portraying characters that have so much going on under a normally impenetrable surface. Here he does so with ease, crafting a character that is completely and utterly believable. Frankie Corio’s debut performance is superb, capturing the complexity of a character on the verge of adulthood in both her innocence but her attraction to the lives of teenagers.
A superbly crafted character study, Aftersun takes the time to establish the world and people of this story through two extraordinary performances from Mescal and Corio.