October 13, 2022

VIFF 2022 | Paul Mescal Goes on Vacation – 'Aftersun' Glows

"There's this feeling once you leave where you're from that you don't totally belong there again."
Paul Mescal Frankie Corio Charlotte Wells | Aftersun A24| VIFF 2022
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2022—First-time filmmaker Charlotte Wells writes and directs a deeply affecting, slice-of-life semi-autobiographical father-daughter vacation drama. Aftersun is set at a somewhat anonymous ramshackle resort hotel in Turkey during the late-'90s—when MiniDV camcorders and payphones were still around—about a woman remembering her father as a young man both fondly and honestly twenty years later as an adult.

Normal People star Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio play a Scottish single father and his eleven-year-old daughter, who live apart now in London and their native Edinburgh, and act more like siblings. Not much occurs but Wells says a lot in her debut film. It's a beautiful rendering of a child slowly becoming more aware of who she and her father are as people. Mescal is movingly heartbreaking as a kind and earnest dad with subtle underlying emotional melancholy and unsteady economic status.

Produced by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, Aftersun is just as artful and moody but has a more curious eye. Corio is a revelation in her quietly powerhouse performance. Wells creates a moody atmosphere full of vibrant details that linger on screen like watching a home video many years later. Her film mesmerizes in its thoughtful ability at recreating a budget-friendly family vacation where not a ton happens but these small moments of truth come out that stay with you forever.

Wells renders a wondrously introspective feature debut that brims with emotional tenderness in its heartfelt conception as a time capsule of pivotal but bittersweet memories. We only get glimpses of the adult woman remembering her childhood with an elusive but loving parent yet this artistry reveals so much. It's a truly intimate portrait of a young father and daughter from a very specific time and place away from home. It's haunting in its aching beauty.

Aftersun screened at the 2022 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Panorama series.


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