Star of Normal People, Paul Mescal certainly seems to be breaking out at the moment; from starring opposite Olivia Coleman in last year’s The Lost Daughter, and opposite Emily Watson in the upcoming God’s Creatures, to appearing on the West End later this year in A Streetcar Named Desire, he’s certainly getting his moment.
The Irish actor is also appearing in the new film Aftersun, which premiered earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, and has since garnered critical acclaim. Set to arrive in UK cinemas on 18th November, here is everything you need to know.
The film focuses on Sophie (newcomer Frankie Corio) and Calum (Mescal) as they holiday in Turkey during the late 90s. A few things go wrong (Calum has a broken arm, and their room has a double bed instead of two singles), but Calum is determined to make the best of things and give his daughter a perfect holiday. Sophie’s parents are separated, and she mostly lives with her mother, so going on holiday with her father is something of a novelty.
The film is presented as a look back by Sophie as an adult (played by Celia Rowlson-Hall) 20 years later, as she reminisces about both the happiness and melancholy of the holiday, and its significance in her life. She finds it tricky to come to terms with the Calum she knows now and the Calum she knew then, and much of the holiday scenes are shown as video camera footage taken by Sophie. Calum himself struggles to be a good and caring father, trying to balance parenting and life, while being a single parent.
The film has an almost dreamlike quality at times, emphasising the feeling of hazy memories of the past, with Sophie and Calum’s part joyful but part melancholy father-daughter relationship. The fun of holidays abroad is a backdrop to the drama, with the pair enjoying trips to the beach and swimming. In the holiday sequences, Calum seems to still be adjusting to parenthood and responsibilities, moving away from adolescence.
And in the present, Sophie seems to be having those same feelings, both transitioning into being a full-grown adult and the changes in perception of your parents and their flaws as you get older. Both Mescal and Corio’s performances have had hugely positive reviews, and the cast also includes Brooklyn Toulson, Sally Messham, Harry Perdios and Ruby Thompson. The film, directed by filmmaker Charlotte Wells in her directorial debut, releases on 18th November.