A strobing light ignites a crowded dance floor as a woman catches fleeting glimpses of a man obscured amidst the writhing bodies. No pick-up scene, this haunting image flickers in and out of Charlotte Well’s sublime debut feature, Aftersun.
The barely perceptible trace of an absence, it laps at the edges of a sun-blushed holiday of years gone by. Normal People star Paul Mescal – nominated for an Oscar with good reason – plays Calum, a young father escaping a lonely and aimless life in London by taking his Edinburgh-based 11-year-old daughter Sophie – remarkable newcomer Frankie Corio – on a package holiday to Turkey he can barely afford.
On the brink of teenage rebellion and unaware of the shifting sands beneath them, she’s coming into her own as he slips away, trapped in some unreachable pain beyond a toothpaste-spattered mirror.
A quiet, emotionally unmooring portrait of father and daughter in moments of blissful silliness and small confessions, much caught on camcorder, it’s a devastatingly honest rendition of the aftershocks of a parent’s love when we realise, too late, the simple joys we shared. Astounding.