90’s. Callum and Sophie, Scottish father and daughter, are on holiday in a Turkish seaside resort, near: one of those villages where the “all inclusive” formula makes those who are not really wealthy feel affluent. Callum and Sophie look great too, and they really aren’t. The father is about to turn 31, the daughter is 11, which means that she was born when Callum was just twenty, and he no longer lives with the girl’s mother: therefore this holiday, which precedes the beginning of the year school, it’s an oasis to hold on to in the midst of an imminent separation. With the help of modern devices, Callum and Sophie document every moment of their short vacation, but something always remains on the edge of the frame: a suffering gaze, a hidden cry. And some sequences filmed nowadays, with Sophie having become an adult, will allow us to glimpse the consequences of that barely mentioned pain.
Aftersun is the debut feature from 35-year-old Scottish writer-director Charlotte Wells, and is the revelation of an undeniable talent.
The naturalness and poetry with which Wells builds her layered story in images and moves between the (little) said and the (much) unsaid is exceptional for a debutant, and generates the effect that every true artist hopes to obtain: the physical pleasure of seeing. His images, even the most awkward or disturbing ones, are a feast for the eyes, and envelop the two protagonists (but also the side characters, in their brief appearance) in an unconditional love: because Aftersun speaks of unconditional love, that between a father and a daughter who don’t know how and don’t want to limit their emotions, even when they move on a dangerous ridge.
The narration works for details, sometimes exaggerated, sometimes relegated offstage, united by a fluency that simultaneously accentuates and cancels the fragmentation. Callum has a broken arm, and the fragmentation of many scenes suggests a jam in the psychology of the characters, but the intimacy that unites them cancels (momentarily) any split, because Aftersun plays on the immediacy of a fleeting present, in time artificially suspended and programmatically happy with a “worry-chasing” holiday.

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