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"Aftersun" is a voyage that travels straight through the heart


Starring Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio and Celia Rowlson-Hall. Written and directed by Charlotte Wells. Now playing at Cineplex Varsity & VIP. 96 mins. PG

⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (out of 4)

A father and daughter vacation, viewed through a prism of wistfulness and regret, takes on magical meaning in this unforgettable first feature by Scotland’s Charlotte Wells, set mainly in the late 1990s. Paul Mescal ("Normal People") plays drifting dad Calum and winsome newcomer Frankie Corio plays his daughter Sophie, as the two attempt to bond following a family split. Calum is a boyish 30 while Sophie is old for her years at 11. Both are marvellously expressive, their back stories more hinted at through actions than explained through words. Their time together at a Turkish resort is like any such holiday in the sun: seemingly endless days of beach and pool fun followed by evenings of buffet dinners, watered-down drinks and silly dance and karaoke contests. But there's a shadow across the sun: Calum is silently fighting depression and life setbacks (a cast on his arm suggests recent trouble) while Sophie, aware of her dad's demons, is struggling with her transition from girl to woman. We realize by degrees that writer/director Wells is framing the past by way of the memories of a now grown-up Sophie, looking back on faded photos and pixelated camcorder footage. "Aftersun" is a voyage through time and place that travels straight through the heart. (Originally published in the Toronto Star.) 🌓

—Peter Howell


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