Douglas Greenwood’s review published on Letterboxd:
When your parents are apart, by way of separation, death or any circumstance, I wonder if the way you split your love moves with it. I'm thinking if, before my mother's death, my love for my parents was carved down the middle, 50/50, or if it would change depending on who I was around at the time.
In Charlotte Wells' Aftersun, Sophie's love for her father weighs so heavily towards him, so doting and special, it's almost as if her love for her mother stayed at home while she came with him on holiday. For the duration of this trip, and the film itself, there is only these two.
And so we watch it pass by with familiar late-90s mundanity: shuttle coaches, sunloungers, lurid-coloured cocktails, tribute acts, Steps played on Walkman. This string of events is paired with – or interrupted by — conversations between Sophie and her father, identifying the traits that bind them so closely, observations of a father and daughter relationship that distance has somehow made stronger.
I loved this. Sophie reminded me of my sister, how the character of Calum provided insight into the emotions of a father children seldom see. My dad is maybe the most mysterious person I know; often, I experience a deluge of emotion on the rare occasion he opens up. It's like seeing a rare painting out of its frame, vulnerable and likely to be damaged.
It's funny how our memories of people are so often burned into celluloid or on digital files we store away; how our understanding of adolescence and who we were in our formative years leaves our brains but is easily returned to. But what it summons can be both gorgeous and heartbreaking, two perfect descriptors of AFTERSUN, a masterful debut in my eyes. A hugely important new filmmaker who successfully pins down what it means to love someone wholeheartedly, and to know that it's often not enough – and not possible – to always have them by your side.