Father-daughter or father-son movies have been a genre that has usually had some good films. It is a genre that pulls at the heartstrings and brings out the emotions of the characters depicted in the movie. These types of films usually have dramatic moments or tough love that parents can give to their children. And of course, the opposite is that kids want more freedom to do what they want and at a young age it’s not usually the case. Teens are a little different. Aftersun has a completely different vibe than most of these types of films. This one isn’t quite a coming-of-age film though.
Calum (Paul Mescal) is a father who takes his daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) on a summer vacation. They get to spend a lot of quality time together getting to know each other. Sometimes they separate and give each other space. Sophie goes to play video games with a young man her own age and sometimes she plays pool with some older kids. While her father meditates in his room by himself. This vacation is mostly spent sunbathing by the pool or swimming in said pool. There is a lot of quality time that they spend together for this father-daughter pair. Which is the best part of the film.
The director Charlotte Wells does a few interesting things in this movie that make it a fascinating look into father-daughter relationships. She has the question and answer parts which are very probing between the two of them. The back and forth between the past and future Sophie is a thing that shows what type of person she has become and what the relationship between her and her father means to her. There were also some moments of shallow depth of field that were strange but effective in showing the mindset of the father in the movie.
Children look up to their parents to be there for them and what they don’t know at times is parenting isn’t easy. This father had his moments of doubt and that is shown very vividly in the film. On the other side of the coin are kids. They are surprisingly smart at times and have good intuition regarding things and some kids know when they have good parents. In this case, the main character played by Corio knows her father means well and wouldn’t do anything to hurt her or put her in harm’s way.
This is essentially a two-hander with a few supporting characters in it. But mainly Paul Mascal bares his soul as this father who doesn’t want to lose his daughter. He wants to be firm but also he wants her to know she can trust him with things she needs to talk about in her life growing up. I wish I had that kind of relationship with my own father. We never were like that when I was a kid growing up. He had a better relationship with my younger brother instead. Now he wants to be my best friend though.
Aftersun isn’t going to blow people away but what it will do is bring genuine emotion to those watching it. Especially fathers and parents in general who have brought up children. It’s not easy in this day and age to be a parent. There are so many distractions for kids and parents alike. It is the parents in the case of this story, a father who takes an interest in his daughter and her upbringing. Charlotte Wells seems like she knew this material well and it showed in her direction. This is a film that should be seen and kids and parents can learn a lot about how each has a tough time. Everybody should just have some compassion for what others are going through in their various situations.
Dan Skip Allen