Aftersun ★★★★★

Memory... Memory is the greatest ally in remembering our loved ones and it's also our greatest enemy. We may have pictures, but what they looked like to us inevitably fades. We may have videos, but what they sounded like to us inevitably fades as well. What we are left with is the most unreliable narrator of all, what we are able to remember.

I have lost both of my parents and there is not a day that goes by where I feel like I don't lose a little something else. Time is a healer, but it is also a thief in taking what was a present and making it a fuzzy and uncertain past that we have more and more trouble returning to as the days and the weeks and the years good by. Our memories change just as we do until it feels as though they don't reassemble what actually took place, but just some approximation that our mind had made up that feels at if it should be right.

For me, my father is forever frozen as the frail, emaciated man wrapped up in his nasal cannula, the oxygen in the room so loud I could barely hear him speak. My mother is forever frozen in her hospice bed, catatonic, her mouth and eyes wide open, but unable to speak, yet squeezing my hands over and over and over again until they hurt. I want to remember them any other way, but these last memories of them are the strongest and also the hardest to confront. Time really can be the cruelest of bastards; I still want to reach for them even in these worst moments, touch them, feel them, see them clearly, yet I can't quite catch them anymore no matter how hard I try.

Charlotte Wells, loosely telling us a version of her story, allows her audience, to imprint our grief onto and into this story. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for that dramatic moment here and despite that perfect ending (arguably the best scene in 2022), it truthfully doesn't come. And that is what is makes such a powerful piece of storytelling. You don't realize the serrating wounds that have been opened by how this film tells its story and shows us these characters, yet we are forced to reckon with them as Mescal's Paul walks into strobing lights that forever ensconce him.

We were prepared for the big, loud dramatic scene that would seemingly provide a catharsis of sorts, but we weren't prepared for this: watching that quiet, almost unobtrusive fade into a frozen oblivion is a dagger, a dagger that I will consciously choose to let continue dig and dig and dig into me as a reminder of just how precious my memories are, no matter if they are reliable or not.

The Best of the Best of 2022

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