• 21 Jan - 27 Jan, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
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Charlotte Wells' Aftersun is a touching and poignant examination of the father-daughter relationship. The movie, which is set in the 1990s, is primarily based on recollections that Sophie (Frankie Corio), then 11, recorded on her camcorder while on vacation with her father. She is now able to understand his behaviour and his decisions to a greater extent as an adult thanks to watching the video and reliving this period in her life than she ever could as a pre-teen.

While on vacation in Turkey, Callum (Paul Mescal) and Sophie are enjoying the splendours of its sun-kissed beaches. Despite the fact that her parents are no longer together, Sophie still visits her father on special occasions where she is free to be herself. She asks blunt, unvarnished inquiries about the world and the people around her at the age of eleven and has a lot of unsolved questions about herself. The film is based on the shaky camcorder tape Sophie used to record her trip to Turkey, which graphically depicts the memory's fuzzy nature. The adult Sophie recalls events from this time with her father in an investigation of their impact as well as her father's reasons for being absent, mirroring the fading yet crisp quality of this tape.

In keeping with the movie's concept of using memories as inspiration, Aftersun offers virtually little insight into its main characters. Instead, it concentrates on virtually experiencing their mental state at this very moment. Callum casually enquires of her on the phone when her mother requests to talk with him, "Are you checking on me?" These brief interludes leave much unsaid but reveal his character's state. Young father Callum is unable to provide for his daughter in the ways he would like to and is unable to handle his daughter's disappointment over unmet expectations. He is a kind father, whether it is through his tai chi practice, kind gestures like applying sunscreen to her back, or just the subtle attention he pays to how she acts around older boys. However, as a dialogue reveals, he also exhibits some escapist tendencies. He responds that there isn't enough sun in Glasgow when asked why he wouldn't ever go back.

The movie explores a pre-teen girl's perspective and delicate observations of her father's behaviour to show how she can pick up on his despair and internal struggles. The recurrent use of strobe lights in footage from a dance club, where Callum is engrossed in a song and an adult Sophie is keeping an eye on him, serves as a visual aid. The climactic and moving usage of David Bowie's legendary song "Under Pressure" to showcase a loving hug between Callum and his daughter conveys the depth of their feelings.

A father-daughter tale in which the daughter is navigating the changes brought on by adolescence is novel, and Wells' personal touches make it feel so close-knit that you can almost feel the touch in the narrative. The movie has a strong undertone of sexual curiosity as Sophie deals with her first thoughts of desire and Callum can't help but watch his daughter's development. It is only implied, never explicitly stated. For those who enjoy witnessing unfiltered, intense emotions, Aftersun is an acquired taste.