Review The film Aftersun (2023).

"Aftersun": Exploring the Complexities of Family Relationships and Inheritance through a Father-Daughter Journey.


Charlotte Wells, the director of "Aftersun," promises her audience a gentle and emotional experience. Unlike typical movies with heated arguments, gunfights, or knife battles, "Aftersun" revolves around a father and daughter's metaphorical and literal journey.

"Aftersun" is the first film by the young director and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie won the French Touch Award for Critics' Week, and its lead actor, 27-year-old Paul Mescal, received multiple nominations, including Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars. However, he ultimately lost to Brendan Fraser's performance in "The Whale."

Is it a trip to Türkiye or to find the truth?

The film "Aftersun" begins with scenes recorded on a home video camera. The daughter, Sophie, is filming her father, Callum, against his will while laughing at him. Gradually, the viewer learns that they are on a trip to Turkey alone to celebrate their birthdays.

Set in the 1990s, a time without mobile phones and social media, in a quiet place without major events, the stage is set for the emotional journey that both father and daughter will go through.

The film is presented as a memory image, and as time passes, the viewer discovers that they are observing Sophie reliving memories from years after the journey. She is alone in her home with an infant son and uses the scenes to help her understand her father, who is present in the past but absent in the present.

The film doesn't provide specific information about the fate and feelings of its protagonists. Instead, it is constructed in a way that reflects the human mind's way of thinking. Memories come in the form of bursts of images, smells, and sensations that aren't arranged in a clear chronological sequence.

The director presents her ideas about the relationship between fatherhood, filiation, and the smooth inheritance of genes through a dreamy cinematic image. She uses the landscapes in Turkey and photographic techniques to visually restore the world of the nineties.

Sophie is 11 years old, and her father is 31, each on the threshold of a new year. They are both depositing a contract and entering another. Sophie is lost between the worlds of childhood and adolescence, while her father expresses surprise at living all this life in one of the scenes. He appears in the following scenes as if he is fighting death only for his daughter.

Sophie, now a mature woman who wakes up in her apartment years later, touches the Turkish carpet her father bought during their trip because it holds some peace for him. She knows that what she knew about her father then is not the whole truth, and what she knows now is not so either.

Callum is a mixture of childhood memories and knowledge of maturity. "Aftersun" attempts to reconstruct this central character in his daughter's life, helping her look at her past through more mature lenses. She sees the pain he endured alone and how she inherited it from him and is afraid to pass it on to her children.

As the film progresses, Sophie's memories become more vivid, and the audience sees how her relationship with her father evolves. She remembers moments of joy and laughter, as well as moments of tension and conflict. Through these memories, the audience learns more about Callum's character and the struggles he faced as a father.

The film also explores the theme of inheritance, both biological and emotional. Sophie realizes that she has inherited some of her father's traits and fears. She worries that she might pass them on to her own children and wonders if she can break the cycle of pain that has been passed down through generations.

As the film comes to a close, Sophie reaches a deeper understanding of her father and their relationship. She realizes that he was not perfect, but he loved her deeply and did the best he could. She also comes to accept that she cannot change the past, but she can choose how to move forward.

Overall, "Aftersun" is a moving and introspective film that explores the complexities of family relationships and the ways in which our pasts shape our present and future. It is a reminder that even in the face of loss and pain, there is hope for healing and growth.

Paul Mescal and the Poetics of Depression:

Irish actor Paul Mescal, who studied acting at Lear Academy and acted in Dublin theaters, rose to fame after playing a role in the series "Normal People". He won the BAFTA TV Award for his performance and subsequently appeared in his first films, "The Lost Daughter" and "God's Creatures". His third film, "Aftersun", gained him widespread attention and an Oscar nomination.

In "Aftersun", Mescal portrays Father Callum, a young man struggling with personal and psychological issues while trying to support his daughter through a difficult time. He fills his room with books and videos about mental health and practices yoga to manage his depression. The film follows Sophie's journey to reconcile the ideal father she thought she had with the reality of her father's struggles.

The film's closing scenes unite the real and imagined images of Father Callum and the intermittent and turbulent dance scenes on the last night at the hotel. While Sophie reaches a certainty about her father, the film leaves the door open for interpretation, prompting viewers to question the truth about those close to them and the validity of external appearances.

Mescal's portrayal of Callum Sr. contrasts with Brendan Fraser's portrayal of Charlie Sr. in "The Whale", both fathers struggling with depression and teetering on the edge of life and death. Mescal's quiet performance conveys his character's emotions through his eyes and body language, while Fraser's melodramatic performance leaves no opportunity for the viewer to read his feelings.

Despite not winning the Oscar for his role in "Aftersun", Mescal's ability to express his character's thoughts without words makes him a talented actor with a promising future in the industry.

Mescal's understated approach to acting has received critical acclaim and helped him stand out in the industry. His ability to convey complex emotions and thoughts without relying on dialogue is a rare skill that has earned him a loyal following of fans.

As he continues to work on new projects, it is clear that Mescal is committed to his craft and is always looking for ways to grow as an actor. His dedication to his work and his ability to connect with audiences make him an actor to watch in the years to come.


Paul Mescal is a talented Irish actor whose performances have captivated audiences around the world. His portrayal of Father Callum in "Aftersun" showcases his ability to convey complex emotions through subtle gestures and expressions. As he continues to work on new projects, it is clear that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the industry for years to come.