With a plot consisting of a single childhood holiday at a faded resort in Turkey, Aftersun seems to follow the likes of recent movies such as Nomadland and The Florida Project; character-centered, cinematically beautiful movies with little active plot. If you’re a fan of any of the previous movies, Aftersun has something else in common with them; it’s heart-breaking. On one hand, Wells’ shots of sun, sea, and sky are beautiful, and the authentic dialogue of Callum (Paul Mescal) and his daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) is lovely to watch. But this is undercut throughout by a clear idea of a sad and inevitable end. Wells’ portrayal of Sophie’s memories through camcorder videos and fading polaroids give the film a sense of melancholic impermanence, and the quiet struggles of Callum are shown undramatically but effectively. From the beginning, Wells hints at where the characters and their relationship are going, so that the finale, when it does come (albeit ambiguously), is unsurprising, but this does not make it any less poignant.
If the concept of a really good cry, however, is for whatever reason not enough to entice you, the double act of Mescal and Corio is wonderful, as is the 80s soundtrack of Queen, R.E.M, and Catatonia. Enjoy!