Aftersun is a film of fragments which are hard to put together.
Written and directed by Scottish-born New York-based Charlotte Wells, it tells the story of a young separated father, Calum (Paul Mescal), spending a budget holiday in Turkey together with his 11-year-old daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio).
The fragments appear to be snatches of film and videos taken by Sophie during this interlude with her father.
On the surface it is a happy time. Father and daughter develop a real rapport; they play together in the pool, and Calum tries to teach her to dive, rubs sunscreen on her back, takes her sightseeing… all the familiar holiday rituals.
But it seems that behind it all, Calum is deeply troubled. At one stage, alone, he dissolves in a paroxism of shattering sobs.
Twelve-year-old Corio is wonderfully natural as the bright young daughter, loving the chance to spend time with the father she rarely sees.
Interspersed between the holiday narrative there are scenes of the adult Sophie, taken 20 years later, as she looks back on pictures of the Turkey interlude, possibly understanding more of her father’s feelings than she did as a child.
Her father was so young – only 30 years old, with an 11-year-old daughter.
This is the first feature film for director Wells and it has garnered a swag of rave reviews. It has won Film Critics Association awards for best picture, best director and best actor, and Mescal has been nominated for an Academy Award for best actor, but the film’s intention is too elusive and its scattered approach, confusing.
The Scottish accents are sometimes hard to understand and the shaky hand-held camera work can be an irritating distraction.
Aftersun opens on February 23 at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX, Luna Outdoor and Camelot Outdoor.
Watch the trailer…