(director/writer: Charlotte Wells; cinematographer: Gregory Oke; editor: Blair McClendon; music: Oliver Coates; cast: Paul Mescal (Calum), Celia Rowlinson-Hall (adult Sophie), Sally Messham (Belinda), Frankie Corio (preteen Sophie), Kayleigh Coleman (Jane); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Mark Ceryak/Amy Jackson/Barry Jenkins/Adele Romanski; A24; 2022-UK/USA)

“The subject’s thoughts count more than the plot.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The debut film of the 35 year-old Scottish director/writer Charlotte Wells is a ‘slice of life’ tender relationship film between the 31-year-old Scottish father Calum (Paul Mescal) and his preteen daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio). The film is told in a series of flashbacks, as the adult daughter (Celia Rowlinson-Hall), now 31, married and expecting her first child, recalls with a fondness when twenty years ago, in the 1990s, her dad took her to a resort in Turkey for a vacation when she was eleven. They easily conversed, enjoyed themselves by the pool, had a blast singing karaoke (especially the song “Losing My Religion”), went dining in fancy hotels, went snorkeling, she was allowed to play unsupervised with other Brit teen tourists and her gentle dad and the 11-year-old filmed their trip on a handheld camcorder. We’re also aware her mom is not present (she lives in Edinburgh, while he’s in London), and we therefore surmise they’re separated even if not told.

It’s a nuanced drama that captures the pleasant selective memories between the two at the time, as it captures a time that was never the same again after that holiday, as the dad, an unhappy man, could never overcome his difficulties and died soon afterwards.

The superb editor, Blair McClendon, marvelously marries the past and present, where one’s memory hits the refresh button and through these memories Sophie deals with grief over her loss. The sensitive performance by Mescal was most appealing.

It’s a lyrical experimental film, offering no big revelations, where the emotions and the subject’s thoughts count more than the plot.

It played at the Cannes Film Festival.

Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal in
        “Aftersun,” from the Scottish director
        Charlotte Wells.

REVIEWED ON 10/24/2022  GRADE: A-