Movie Review: Aftersun (2022)

The power of memory helps guide the filmmaker’s camera in a profound new motion picture. A modern woman reflects on the shared joy and private sadness of a vacation she took with her father two decades prior in the emotionally affecting drama Aftersun (A+), directed by first-time feature filmmaker Charlotte Wells. Flashbacks real and imagined, plus snippets of camcorder reels, fill in the gaps as the female protagonist tries to reconcile the dad she knew and the man she didn’t. Paul Mescal plays the young father and Frankie Corio his 11-year-old daughter who talk and play at a Turkish beach resort in the late 1990s. Beneath the surface of sightseeing, snorkeling, billiards and pranks, there’s an omnipresent melancholy and mystery undergirding the lively events of a hopeful holiday. The movie juxtaposes a coming of age story in which the little girl experiences friendships and awakenings with a poignant, intimate family portrait of a protective and sometimes idealized father. Mescal is a force of nature in the role, seizing moments of tenderness and pangs of desperation. Corio is funny and bright and hits all the right notes as the pint-sized daughter who idolizes him. Wells captures the beauty of the relationship amidst gorgeous scenery and realistic encounters. Her film leaves an indelible impression and will be a balm and reflection for anyone nostalgic for bygone relationships.

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