The film’s opening shows us someone watching old footage from a mini DV cassette tape. Based on the various clips we’re shown, and the musical score presented, it’s understood that viewers are about to get a glimpse at a different time, and perhaps the person viewing the camera is, in fact, about to go down memory lane.
Sophie (Frankie Corio) is a young girl who goes on holiday with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal). The two enjoy each other’s company and chat about all kinds of things, such as Sophie discussing living at home with her mother. The two also share moments of laughter as well as those of a more heartfelt nature. We witness Calum wanting to teach Sophie how to defend herself if ever in danger and encouraging her to make new friends with kids her age while staying around the hotel. However, what started as a fun and relaxing time for both Sophie and Calum slowly builds towards a surprising and significant conclusion.
Aftersun is best described as a slow-burning drama film. The payoff here is massive, and the conclusion feels rewarding, touching and emotional. Funnily enough, upon my first watch, I found the film began strongly and then moved forward far slower than I preferred. At times, I didn’t find myself fully invested or excited. However, the finale had me broken long after the credits rolled down the screen.
The performances here are lovely. There is a genuine display of a father and daughter relationship here, and it’s darn near impossible not to find aspects of this relationship relatable and touching, thanks to performances from both Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio. Visually, I also enjoyed this film. It was almost as if viewers were a fly on the wall or sharing the entire holiday with our leads.
The themes and messages displayed here are great, even if they are sometimes mysterious. Still, enough hints are shown throughout that viewers walk away feeling confident they can fully understand the storyline. The importance of making memories and appreciating having a parent or guardian were just some aspects I took away from this film. Experiences and takeaways will differ among audiences, but something here is relatable regardless of your personal walk in life.
Overall, during my first watch, I found Aftersun enjoyable and slow. Aftersun surprised me profoundly and broke me with its journey of a father-and-daughter relationship and the unexpected finale. The powerful, worthy and unforgettable finale left the film imprinted on my mind long after the credits had disappeared. The performances here are compelling, touching, believable and dramatic. The less you know about Aftersun’s plot and story, the better journey and experience viewers will have. Aftersun (2022) is Available in Australian Cinemas from February 23rd.