Finn Spencer’s review published on Letterboxd:
Aftersun is new territory for me, I don’t think I’ve seen a movie like it. I’ve heard it described as a “hang out” movie, and I think that kind of works. It drops us into a brief couple of days in the characters lives, from the perspective of the older Sophie reflecting on what’s maybe her last couple days with her Dad, and asks us effectively to figure it out, and it’s beautiful.
What I really liked about how this movie was shot was it’s willingness to linger in the moment. Several times the camera will half completely, or slow to a crawl so we can sit and breath with the characters, or just exist in the environment. It sounds boring, but it’s more intimate. It feels like sitting with someone you’re close with, and just existing. It’s captured brilliantly.
Not a lot actually happens, in terms of plot, but everything feeds into the central relationship of Sophie and her dad Calum, and points towards what he was going through and what happens to them both after the holiday. It’s intentionally vague, but hits home emotionally regardless of specific interpretation.
There are some breathtaking shots of scenery, and it uses the camera to convey a lot about the characters, their struggles and possible fates, with a lot of hints and factors about Calum and what happens to him. The score is subtle but emphasises the emotion, either the gentle companionship or when it takes centre stage to inspire a sense of overwhelming dread in the audience.
Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio give brilliant performances. They’re the only two major characters in the movie, a big task to almost solely fill two hours between them, and they both do fantastic. Mescal is great with working with his character’s vague troubles. He communicates clearly he’s having difficulties but expresses clear love for his daughter through the performance. Corio is also great, especially for a young actress and is able to convey a lot about the character without saying a word. Both performances are unflinchingly real and human.
Maybe it’s not for everyone, given the vagueness, lack of linearity and not having a clear plot, but I think it remains emotionally resonant, masterfully crafted and one of the best movies of the year.