Aftersun

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By VANDERLEI TENÓRIO*

Commentary on the film by Charlotte Wells

Premiered at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Critics' Week French Touch Award, Aftersun, the first cinematographic work by Scottish director Charlotte Wells, narrates the experiences of Sophie (Frankie Corio) during her holidays with her father, Callum (Paul Mescal), in Turkey, in the 1990s.

Young and separated from Sophie's mother, Callum and his daughter spend their days by the pool, exploring the region on sporadic walks, while indulging in conversations and discussions.

As adolescence looms on the horizon, Callum faces the burden of life beyond fatherhood, seeing the world through his daughter's eyes. Two decades later, Sophie's fond memories of that vacation become a powerful and moving portrait of her relationship with her father.

On this journey, she tries to reconcile the image of the father she knew in those days with the man he became, exploring the complexity and evolution of this bond over time.

Keeping this in mind, in an unpretentious way, Aftersun becomes an instant classic, delving into the deep layers of this father-daughter relationship. In a theme often placed in the background, the film stands out among the extensive film production, which often focuses on the dynamics between father and son, and mother and son.

The work of Charlotte Wells

Aftersun is a dense, painful, sensitive and labyrinthine work in which several key themes are intertwined that are relevant to the lives of all of us: filial love, the challenges of growing up and the extent to which the relationship with our parents shapes our ability to interact with others and establish more or less solid and lasting relationships.

It's the type of production that leaves an unforgettable mark, provoking deep reflections that will undoubtedly resonate in our memories for a long time. It is exactly this particularity that gives an irresistible attraction to the production in question, a delicacy that is revealed in a subtle way in the minimalist creation of Charlotte wells

This fascination finds its origin in a special way in the two characters and the interpreters who bring them to life.

Callum and Sophie

Together, father and daughter capture the public's attention with each movement, leading them to reflect on the deep complicity between them. It is a meeting of souls, where words become dispensable. The looks, smiles and hugs communicate everything.

But, as in any relationship, not everything is rosy, nor should it be; the first disagreements manifest themselves as a silent dispute. Stripped of any lyrical exaggeration or sentimental effusion, the narrative of Charlotte Wells limits himself to objectively reporting the actions of his characters, leading to the gradual revelation of the “hidden” mystery.

Along these lines, as it moves towards its conclusion, the film weaves together several layers; it shatters under a scintillating light that separates bodies and blurs the boundaries between different times and spaces. The distinction between past and present disappears, leaving us in an all-encompassing uncertainty. This is intentional, generating a commotion with the aim of freeing us, involving our essence and captivating our finite soul.

So, here, there is something that needs to be expressed, words that cry out to be spoken. It is something that will serve to keep them safe while they are lost, a kind of anchorage in the midst of confusion.

In this way, each phrase carries a deep meaning, representing the search for something essential, sincere expression and the need to find security in uncertain circumstances. It is a kind of antidote to ward off pain, a safeguard against sadness.

There is a desire to observe, to check if everything is truly okay, a meticulous attention to the nuances of everyday life. It is a constant search for understanding, communication, comfort and the careful dedication to the serenity of true love.

This story of a young father and his daughter goes beyond the mere search for understanding, becoming a surrender to the emotions that drive them. It may be precisely for this reason that the narrative immediately won over the public, touching sensitive fibers that resonate deeply in the hearts of viewers.

What is left to say?

As we reach the epilogue of this plot, it not only captures our hearts, but also firmly establishes itself in our minds and echoes in our soul, holding us until the final outcome. As they walk away, our eyes, powerless over the unfolding events, witness the inevitable.

What is left to say? All we are left with is contemplation, allowing tears to express our deepest regret.

The future is uncertain, but one thing was certain: they would never forget the lessons learned throughout that summer that, no matter how painful it was, had changed them forever.

It is us?

Even reluctantly, we must recognize that love can be complicated, and relationships do not always unfold according to our expectations. Accepting that, in some situations, it is necessary to let someone go to avoid further suffering is a painful but crucial lesson that we learn with maturity.

As we get older, we will realize that things don't always follow the plan we set out, and everything, no matter how cliché it may seem, has a purpose.

Oh, and as time passes, we also understand that our parents are fallible human beings, just like us. No matter how much they try to convey the image of superheroes, they are fragile and, every day, they resist and overcome their own struggles and imperfections, just like anyone else.

*Vanderlei Tenorio He is a journalist and professor/coordinator of Emancipa Itapira.

Reference


Aftersun
USA, UK and Northern Ireland, 2022, 101 minutes.
Direction and Screenplay: Charlotte Wells.
Cast: Frankie Corio, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Paul Mescal.

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