How Aftersun Changes Perspective on Summer Vacation

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Think back to your favorite summer vacation from your childhood. Maybe you went to a water park or went to visit family that you rarely see. You were just a kid who didn’t have to deal with the stresses of work or school and just enjoyed your time that summer being carefree and having fun. That carefree attitude is something we start to lose as we get older and face the reality of life’s ups and downs.

Aftersun, written by Charlotte Wells, is a dramatic film that takes place in the country of Turkey and explores how the past subtly shapes who we are in the future without us even realizing it’s happening. The movie follows the main character Sophie, who is reflecting on her past and back to when she was 11 years old, enjoying the last great vacation she had with her now estranged father, Calum.

The film is often shown through shots from Sophie’s camcorder as she records her vacation with her dad. These old-school camcorder shots add authenticity to the film and make you feel like you’re watching a home movie. As the movie progresses and you have watched what feels like half a movie of a normal summer vacation between a father and his daughter, you may start to question, “What is this movie even about?” It’s around the halfway point that the director masterfully shows the audience glimpses of Calum’s struggles with depression and shortcomings as a father, and you realize those signs were present with his character the whole time. 

Calum’s character shows us how our parents might have faced a lot of challenges during some of our best times as a child that we were unaware of, and now that we are older, we can relate to those challenges. The film’s depth of storytelling pushes the viewers to really reflect on their own relationships with their parents. Now looking back to my childhood, I may have taken for granted how much sacrifice my parents went through in order to give me a good childhood, but now as an adult, I can enjoy my summers away from school and fully appreciate the time I get to spend with them.

Aftersun is led by an Oscar-nominated performance from Paul Mescal as Calum, as well as a strong directorial debut from Charlotte Wells, who was nominated for two BAFTA awards for British Film of the Year and Outstanding Debut for a British Writer, Director, or Producer.

Aftersun is a reminder for us to not only cherish the good moments we have with our family this summer but also to make sure to be there for them through the tough moments as well. Try to be mindful of others’ struggles and enjoy this summer with the people closest to you.

You can check out the critically acclaimed performances in Aftersun by streaming now on Paramount+.