Aftersun is a 2022 coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Charlotte Wells in her feature directorial debut. Starring Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio, and Celia Rowlson-Hall, the film follows an 11-year-old Scottish girl on holiday with her father at a Turkish resort on the eve of his 31st birthday.

Aftersun
Release poster
Directed byCharlotte Wells
Written byCharlotte Wells
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyGregory Oke
Edited byBlair McClendon
Music byOliver Coates
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • Mubi (United Kingdom)
  • A24 (United States)
Release dates
  • 21 May 2022 (2022-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 21 October 2022 (2022-10-21) (United States)
  • 18 November 2022 (2022-11-18) (United Kingdom)
Running time
101 minutes
Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$9.7 million[1][2]

Aftersun had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 21 May 2022, where Wells was nominated for the Caméra d'Or. It was theatrically released in the United States on 21 October 2022, and in the United Kingdom on 18 November 2022. The film received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised Wells' direction and screenplay, cinematography, visuals, and the performances of Corio and Mescal.

It received four nominations at the 76th BAFTA Awards, where Wells won for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.[3] Mescal was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 95th Academy Awards. Aftersun was named one of the best films of 2022 by the National Board of Review[4] and was awarded top place by Sight and Sound on its poll for the best films of 2022.[5]

Plot

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In the late 1990s, Scottish 11-year-old Sophie travels to a Turkish holiday resort with her young father Calum, who moved to London after having separated amicably from her mother. Sophie records the holiday on a MiniDV camera, the footage of which is interspersed throughout the film. Over the course of the holiday, Sophie befriends and observes various English tourists at the resort, often meeting and playing arcade games with a boy named Michael. Calum exhibits signs of depression, anxiety, and internal turmoil, which he tries to hide from his daughter beneath a facade of contentment. During his time alone, he is seen engaging in Tai chi patterns and reading self-help books; he is also shown smoking, which he hides from Sophie.

One day, Sophie and Calum go scuba diving and she loses her expensive scuba mask; while Calum feigns nonchalance, Sophie senses her father's actual feelings and expresses that she understood the mask was expensive and comforts her father; Calum is taken aback by this. Calum then tells the diving instructor next to them that he is surprised to have lived to be 30. Soon after, Calum and Sophie go to a rug merchant and she observes him grapple with the cost of purchasing one he likes. Calum initially declines purchasing the rug while Sophie is with him, later returning without her to buy it.

The following night, they attend a karaoke night and Sophie signs herself and Calum up for a song. Calum curtly refuses to sing with Sophie despite her insistence, and Sophie ends up singing "Losing My Religion" alone as Calum watches on. Upset by being left alone by him, Sophie refuses to join Calum in returning to their hotel room and hangs out with the strangers. Michael creeps up on Sophie from behind, frightening her. They later kiss beside a pool. Meanwhile, Calum goes to the beach and walks straight into the waves. When Sophie returns to the hotel room, she finds Calum asleep and nude; she gently covers him with a sheet.

The two reconcile the next day while travelling to the mud baths, and Calum apologises for the previous night's behaviour. Sophie surprises him by having other tourists sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" for his birthday, while Calum stoically watches on. Calum is shown sobbing in the hotel room alone, with letters that apologise to Sophie strewn across the floor.

On the last night of their holiday together, Calum and Sophie share a dance together to "Under Pressure" in a loving embrace. The next morning, Calum and Sophie are at the airport, where Calum waves goodbye and sends Sophie off on her flight back home to her mother.

In the present day, the now-adult Sophie lives with her wife and young child, with the rug Calum purchased on display. She is shown looking through the camera footage from the holiday in Turkey, prying through her memories in an attempt to understand what happened to her father. Interspersed throughout the film are abstract, dream-like sequences where the adult Sophie stands in the middle of a crowded rave, catching glimpses of Calum dancing frantically through strobing lights. Throughout the sequences, Sophie attempts to get closer to him multiple times, eventually briefly embracing him; with their hands wrapped around each other, Calum ultimately falls from Sophie's grasp. In the final scene, Calum packs away the camera and walks down the airport hallway after having waved goodbye to Sophie, opening the doors to the room of the rave.

Cast

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Production

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Aftersun is the feature film debut of director and writer Charlotte Wells. Calling it "emotionally autobiographical", she sought to delve into "a different period" in a relationship between a young parent and a daughter than what she explored in her 2015 debut short film Tuesday.[6] Frankie Corio was one of over 800 applicants before being cast.[6] Filming took place in Ölüdeniz, Turkey.[7] During the two-week rehearsal period Corio and Mescal spent time at a holiday resort in order to make their dynamic more authentic.[8]

Music

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Soundtrack

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  1. Mac Prindy - "High Hopes"
  2. The Lightning Seeds – "Lucky You"
  3. Los del Río – "Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)"
  4. Aqua - "My Oh My"
  5. Catatonia – "Road Rage"
  6. Blur - " Tender"
  7. Bran van 3000 - "Drinking in L.A."
  8. Deacon Blue – "Real Gone Kid"
  9. Steps - "5,6,7,8"
  10. R.E.M - "Losing My Religion"
  11. The Righteous Brothers - "Unchained Melody"
  12. Chumbawamba - "Tubthumping"
  13. The Paragons - "The Tide is High"
  14. All Saints - "Never Ever"
  15. Candan Erçetin - "Gamsiz Hayat"
  16. Queen and David Bowie - "Under Pressure"[9]

Score

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English composer Oliver Coates composed the film's original score.

Release

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The film premiered as part of Critics' Week during the 2022 Cannes Film Festival,[10] where it won a jury prize.[11] It screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival,[12] the Melbourne International Film Festival,[13] the Telluride Film Festival,[14] the Toronto International Film Festival,[15] the London Film Festival,[16] the New York Film Festival,[17] the New Hampshire Film Festival,[18] and the Adelaide Film Festival.[19]

Aftersun was distributed in Austria, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Latin America, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom by Mubi and in the United States and Canada by A24.[20][21] It was released in the United States on 21 October 2022 and in the United Kingdom on 18 November 2022.[22][23] The film was released for video on demand in the United States on 20 December 2022,[24] and was later made available to stream on Mubi on 5 January 2023 in countries where Mubi distributes the film.

Reception

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Critical response

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Paul Mescal received widespread critical praise for his performance as Calum Paterson, and received his first career nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Aftersun holds an approval rating of 96% based on 243 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Led by Frankie Corio's tremendous performance, Aftersun deftly ushers audiences to the intersection between our memories of loved ones and who they really are."[25] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 95 out of 100 based on 46 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[26]

The New York Times critic A.O. Scott described the film as "astonishing and devastating" and commended Wells for "very nearly reinventing the language of film, unlocking the medium's often dormant potential to disclose inner worlds of consciousness and feeling."[27] Screen Daily's Fionnuala Halligan wrote that Wells' "measured but relentless probing ... mark her out as one of the most promising new voices in British cinema in recent years".[28] Guy Lodge of Variety described the film as "sensuous, sharply moving".[29] Carlos Aguilar of TheWrap praised Gregory Oke's "visually fluid" cinematography and thought that it "evokes a radiant melancholia".[30] Writing in Empire, Beth Webb praised the film as being a "deftly orchestrated, empathetic and honest character study" and "A triumph of new British filmmaking."[31] In 2024, filmmaker Christopher Nolan cited Aftersun as one of his favorite films, calling it "just a beautiful film."[32]

Several film critics have pointed out the film's resonances with the work of Margaret Tait; as Mark Kermode of The Guardian writes, "There are also clear traces of the films of Margaret Tait in Wells's craft, specifically Blue Black Permanent (1992), which seems to have served as a tonal reference (a volume of Tait's writings is prominently displayed on screen)."[33] In an interview with RogerEbert.com, Wells would acknowledge the impact of Tait on her, particularly Blue Black Permanent saying, "It's a special film and it relates in many ways to what I was doing.".[34] A copy of Tait's Poems, Stories and Writings lies between a Tai Chi manual and a self-help book in Calum's pile of holiday readings. Pat Brown of Slant Magazine named the film's climactic "Under Pressure" sequence as one of the best movie scenes of 2022, saying that it "brings to the surface what was kept simmering throughout: the searing pain of loss that's led Sophie to reflect on the past."[35]

Awards and nominations

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References

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  1. ^ "Aftersun (2022)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Aftersun (2022)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  3. ^ "Scots find success at this year's Bafta awards". The National. 20 February 2023. Archived from the original on 20 February 2023. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  4. ^ "National Board of Review Announces 2022 Award Winners". 8 December 2022. Archived from the original on 9 December 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  5. ^ "The 50 best films of 2022". 19 December 2022. Archived from the original on 24 January 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b Ramachandran, Naman (20 May 2022). "Charlotte Wells on Cannes Critics' Week Film 'Aftersun': 'I Got More and More of Myself Into Both Characters'". Variety. Archived from the original on 21 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  7. ^ Smith, Anna (21 May 2022). "Cannes Review: Paul Mescal In Charlotte Wells' 'Aftersun'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Paul Mescal on getting into the 'Dad' mindset while filming Aftersun". YouTube. 16 November 2022. Archived from the original on 11 January 2023. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  9. ^ "Aftersun Soundtrack". IMDb. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  10. ^ Grater, Tom (20 April 2022). "Cannes Critics' Week: Jesse Eisenberg's 'When You Finish Saving The World' To Open 2022 Selection". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 20 April 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  11. ^ Vlessing, Etan (25 May 2022). "Cannes: 'La Jauria' Tops Critics' Week Prizes". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  12. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (12 July 2022). "Charlotte Wells' Cannes Critics' Week Breakout 'Aftersun' To Open Edinburgh". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 13 July 2022. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Aftersun". Archived from the original on 19 July 2022. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  14. ^ Jones, Marcus (5 September 2022). "Barry Jenkins Praises 'Aftersun' at Telluride: 'I'm a F*cking Wreck'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 5 September 2022. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  15. ^ "Aftersun". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 18 August 2022. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  16. ^ "Aftersun". BFI London Film Festival 2022. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Main Slate". Film at Lincoln Center. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  18. ^ "Aftersun". New Hampshire Film Festival. Archived from the original on 19 August 2023. Retrieved 19 August 2023.
  19. ^ "AFF announces the first 5 films for 2022". Adelaide Film Festival. 30 August 2022. Archived from the original on 31 August 2022. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  20. ^ Dalton, Ben (21 May 2022). "Mubi buys hot UK Cannes title 'Aftersun' starring Paul Mescal (exclusive)". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  21. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (24 May 2022). "A24 Buys Paul Mescal Cannes Drama 'Aftersun' for U.S., Canada (Exclusive)". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Fall Movie Calendar: From Blonde to Wakanda Forever". WHEC-TV. 30 August 2022. Archived from the original on 4 September 2022. Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  23. ^ Dalton, Ben (30 September 2022). "UK-Ireland cinema release calendar: latest updates for 2022". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  24. ^ "Aftersun DVD Release Date". www.dvdsreleasedates.com. Archived from the original on 22 November 2022. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  25. ^ "Aftersun". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  26. ^ "Aftersun". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  27. ^ Scott, A. O. (20 October 2022). "'Aftersun' Review: A Father and Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 20 October 2022. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  28. ^ Halligan, Fionnuala (21 May 2022). "'Aftersun': Cannes Review". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  29. ^ Lodge, Guy (21 May 2022). "'Aftersun' Review: Paul Mescal's Charisma Powers a Summer Vacation Portrait That Isn't as Sunny as It Seems". Variety. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  30. ^ Aguilar, Carlos (21 May 2022). "'Aftersun' Film Review: Charlotte Wells Debuts With an Achingly Stirring Coming-of-Age Tale". TheWrap. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  31. ^ "Aftersun". Empire. 15 November 2022. Archived from the original on 15 November 2022. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  32. ^ "How Christopher Nolan Found Intimacy on a Grand Scale". 29 January 2024.
  33. ^ "Aftersun review – luminous father-daughter drama starring Paul Mescal". The Guardian. 20 November 2022. Archived from the original on 20 November 2022. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  34. ^ Daniels, Robert. "Writing Inside Out: Charlotte Wells on Aftersun". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on 18 October 2022. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  35. ^ "The Best Film Scenes of 2022". Slant Magazine. 12 December 2022. Archived from the original on 6 April 2023. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
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