‘Aftersun’ – Review

Two stars 

A young Scottish female film director? With a debut film being shown at Cannes?!

The moment I heard about Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun, I knew I had to see it.

The Cannes Premiere was scheduled a few days after I left, so I wasn’t able to see it there. But I was lucky that a few months later it was showing closer to home at the Edinburgh Film Festival. In fact, it was the opening night film, with guests such as Nicola Sturgeon in attendance. Whilst I didn’t see it on the night, I saw it a few days later at a packed Filmhouse.

With promising reviews, much buzz and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it seemed as if I was going to be in for a treat. As the woman who introduced the film at the beginning told us all, we had made “wise life choices” in going to see the film. Moreover, with a cast featuring the likes of Normal People star Paul Mescal, the more I read about it the more it sounded like it would be well worth a watch.

Not many films have blown me away… Would this be one of them?

The plot centred on the relationship between a young father Calum (Paul Mescal) and his daughter, Sophie (Francesca Corio). They are holidaying at a Turkish resort together, spending quality time with one another abroad.  Things have been more complicated with their relationship of late, in particular because Calum has divorced Sophie’s mother.

Sadly, I didn’t like the film. I just could not agree with the hype. Unbelievably boring, I just wanted time to hurry up. Everything seemed to be moving at a very slow pace. With films like this you realise that you are just wasting precious time that you won’t get back. They were supposed to be on holiday, yet this was the dullest holiday I had ever witnessed. Nothing of any interest happened. Even the summer holiday I had spent working full-time was far more fun than this tedious film. In fact, it was so uninteresting that as I write this review, I can’t even think of anything else to say.

I suppose the interesting camera angles and the beauty of the shots in some ways made up for how unexciting the plot was… But that’s about one of the only good things I can say about the film. That and the acting ability of Corio, a promising newcomer.

It’s also worth mentioning that there was a scattering of emotional scenes. The scene in which Calum breaks down and cries on his birthday, for instance, demonstrated Mescal’s range, and offered the audience a brief moment of emotional involvement. I also liked when the daughter used the video camera, documenting sweet exchanges between father and daughter. The video footage was recurrent throughout the story, further delving into the father-daughter relationship.

What really puzzles me is how much people love this film. The best opening night film of EIFF… Some even going so far as to say that it is the best film of the decade! I can’t understand the buzz at all. Almost every film I’ve seen this year has been more exciting than this one. It is one of these films absolutely loved by critics that you feel, by saying you don’t like it, that people will think that you are stupid. Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, in a way. Now, compare Aftersun to the 2019 Edinburgh Film Festival opening night film, Get Duked. By contrast that was incredibly enjoyable, probably the best film I’d ever seen at EIFF.

Despite not enjoying Charlotte Wells’s directorial debut, I still intend to see what else she makes. After all, her next film may be far more to my taste.

[Emilija Morrison | she/her | @emilijapanda]

Image credits <https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a40883318/normal-people-paul-mescal-aftersun-uk-release-date/&gt;

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