Charlotte Wells by Paula Woods

‘AFTERSUN’: AN ATMOSPHERIC FLASHBACK

‘Aftersun’ stages a father-daughter relationship in its depth and vulnerability.

I think being a parent is one of the most complex things that can happen to us and also represents the immense multidimensional connections that one can experience. The moment you become a parent, all your own problems are pushed into the background and you are no longer only responsible for yourself, but also for a being that seems to be at the mercy of this world without any protection. The greatest good becomes the happiness and the inversity around this being. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that parents are not perfect, relentless unshakable creatures. And that their protection cannot be limitless, often to their own despair.
The older children get, the more they are exposed to the world, have all kinds of experiences and undergo their own personal pain. The world becomes harder, more opaque and the view more realistic that used to be covered with a gentle veil by the hands of our parents. This must be a feeling of hopelessness that the child’s well-being seems to be out of one’s hands at some point.
In order to maintain a lightness, many parents tend to show their children only one side of themselves, the side that will not put additional stress on them. No negative feelings, no illness, no worries, a silky light version of themselves, obscuring the view on their own vulnerability.

Paul Mescal stars as leading character Calum in the new coming-of-age drama ‘Aftersun‘, representing a father who is slowly being crushed by the internal pressure to maintain an image of himself to the outside world, especially to his own daughter. Paul Mescal manages to create a perfect painful fusion of a character filled on the one hand with an almost childlike lightness, juxtaposed with a hidden side filled with sorrow and heaviness that seems barely able to grasp the future.
Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells creates in her retrospective drama a symbol of remembering and a persistent flashback. ‘Aftersun‘ moves through all times. Based on the past, floating through the present and sharply invoking the future.
Sophie (Frankie Corio), who we get to know deeply as a child and dimly as a young adult and mother (Celia Rowlson-Hall), devotes herself to her own memories, often seeming like the mundane moments one might overlook in everyday life, but in retrospect are more revealing than perhaps previously thought. The whole scenery belongs to her memory of a vacation 20 years ago, which is incredibly light-hearted and at the same time accompanied by an incomparable heaviness, staging the controversy of a relationship in a shimmering, even weightless atmosphere that also allows the viewer to dive into the scenario again and again and remain lost in the space of it. A father caught between two worlds, between two responsibilities, lost and at the same time exactly where he wants to be. In the attempt to feign a lightness to his daughter and to implant in her this one blithe memory of the joint time, which is to last forever, his vulnerability is gently visualized even in the smallest details.
But there is an unfathomable heaviness that Sophie later finds in herself, always confronting herself with the question about its origin.
The end of the film is filled by the unspoken and a sense of loss, but also the gentle touch of someone close.

Aftersun‘ is a celebration of the controversy of feelings, the beginning of something and a farewell, but above all an approach of an in-depth facet of a person, which was kept hidden with all his strength.

Paul Mescal already delivered an outstanding performance in the series ‚Normal People, based on the namesake novel by Sally Rooney. He was nominated for the Oscar as Best Actor in a Leading Role in 2023 for his performance in ‘Aftersun’.
‘Aftersun’ is available to stream from March 17th on MUBI

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