Aftersun: Nostalgia, Memory, and Our Relationship With Both
Rarely is a movie, or any media for matter, made about the time in a person’s life when they are not yet a teenager nor are they a still a child. A time in your life when you are starting to become embarrassed by your parents, but still cling to them for protection when the world starts to become too much. When you’re starting to look at other people’s bodies and comparing theirs to your own and wondering if you’ll look like them in a few years. When being 7, a young, know nothing child, felt like a lifetime ago, because for you it might as well have been.
Aftersun is a movie about the experiences of looking back on a very specific part of our life, and how those memories and those experiences can be scattered, broken, and may not make perfect sense. But, whether or not our recollection of those events is perfectly in line with what actually happened is utterly beyond the point. The message being delivered here is that we are formed, molded by, and very much defined by the way our memories make us feel.
Throughout this movie, we see flashes of an older Sophie who is wrestling with the idea of who her Dad was to her. She clearly still feels a substantial connection with him, as we see her getting out of bed, her legs dangling off the side before coming to rest on the rug he bought for her while on vacation. Whether or not that connection is of a positive or negative nature, or, maybe more importantly, somewhere in the murky middle, the viewer is left to decide for themselves.
How Sophia feels about her relationship with her father may be left up for interpretation, the answers being left unclear, but, for me, Charlotte Wells’ writing and direction, Paul Mescals performance and Frankie Corio’s deeply truthful depiction of an 11-year-old girl and the complicated relationship with her emotionally inconsistent and impenetrable father, all came together to create one of, if not the, most moving and transcendent movie experiences I’ve had all year.