Aftersun flows like a fondly remembered memory that’s been replayed endlessly, as if trying to find an important detail that might explain what happened. The easy pace of Wells’s direction brings out the best in her central performers, and the chemistry between Mescal and Corio plays out effortlessly. The light moments between them are warm and the darker ones linger heavily
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That a director can summon such emotional maturity paired with grand narrative originality in her first outing, particularly working from a deeply personal standpoint, astounds. Wells, a forward-thinking artist, invites into a vortex of feelings and sensations that fully exploits the language of cinema for its gorgeously humanistic pursuit.
Bold acrobatics in editing and ambitious creative choices feel all the more superfluous next to Mescal’s effortless charisma.
While attention, fairly, will go to the work’s visual and tonal acuity, Wells’ measured but relentless probing, her careful peeling away of the layers of this intimate piece, mark her out as one of the most promising new voices in British cinema in recent years.
Aftersun thus works elegantly as a kind of dual coming-of-age study, perfectly served by Mescal’s signature brand of softboi gentleness — here shown maturing and creasing into more hardened, troubled masculinity — and the vitality of Corio, whose deft, lovely performance braids both authentic exuberance and a girlishness that feels more performed, as if for the benefit of her dad.
Wells’ debut is a frankly astonishing work which will leave a lasting impression.
With remarkable confidence, [Wells] just lets her movie unspool naturally, like a haunting and deceptively simple short story. The details accumulate; the images reverberate; the unshowy gentleness of the central relationship inexorably deepens in importance.
Charlotte Wells’ sharp and tender Aftersun is the rare father-and-child drama that leaves you wondering who the dad will grow up to be.
The film has a beguiling looseness – it captures that familiar holiday feeling of good days and bad days, or moods turning for no particular reason, other than maybe spending a bit too long in each other’s company.