Film Review: Aftersun captures the complexity of father-daughter relationships

A24, please never stop delivering family relationship based films

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Film cover with a dad and young daughter sitting on a beach looking at the ocean.
PHOTO: A24

By: Kiara Co, SFU Student

Charlotte Wells has brilliantly crafted her directorial debut with tender love and care. Released on October 28, Aftersun has been screening in film festivals like the Cannes Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. Produced by A24, the company has a track record of releasing films that tackle one-on-one family relationships, from grandchild and grandmother in The Farewell (2019) to father and son in C’mon C’mon (2021). Alas, we now have Aftersun, which shows the complex dynamic between a father and daughter. 

Aftersun is about a girl named Sophie (Frankie Corio) who looks back at her vacation twenty years ago with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal) through flashback memories and recorded footage on a camcorder. With this simple premise, it conveyed plenty of emotions to the screen. 

The film begins lighthearted and heartwarming but becomes intensely melancholic. Many of us can relate to not being able to comprehend what’s going through our parents’ minds, and looking back at family vacations can bring up mixed emotions. Sometimes it feels like our parents have hidden something best left unknown. Despite the heartwarming bond between parent and child, it’s difficult to detach the feeling of being lost.

What stood out with this film is the cinematography. Wells not only captured the emotional bond between Sophie and her father, but also conveyed the feelings associated with spending time with a loved one on vacation. The film captured fresh, breezy, and warm tones, which allowed me to feel the warmth these characters felt. It also included plenty of grain in capturing past memories. The film shifts back and forth from the memory lapse and present time as we see Sophie trying to recollect memories of her father. 

Both Corio and Mescal had natural chemistry bouncing off each other through their line delivery. Corio brought an impressive acting debut performance and was able to carry the story with her humorous, curious, and substantial on-screen presence. In addition, she brought out a perfect amount of cute, childlike innocence with the role of Sophie

On the other hand, Mescal, notably known for his Emmy-nominated role in Normal People, struck an emotionally fleshed-out performance once again. He convincingly conveyed a young father struggling to hide his internal struggles from his young daughter to preserve her innocence. His performance hit the mark on how fathers often close themselves off emotionally from their children, which leads to children questioning who their parents really are.

Aftersun is one of the best films of 2022. Immerse yourself in a summertime holiday in an hour and forty-one minutes: it’s sure to make you laugh and shed some tears.