UK Cypriot Harry Perdios makes his film debut in the movie Aftersun in the role of Toby. Harry was born in Leeds his parents born in the UK his Paternal Grand parents are from Larnaca and Achna.
No title card tells us when the breathtaking Aftersun is set. The temptation might just be to date it: “Childhood.” The film is the first from Scottish director Charlotte Wells, the result such a gossamer knockout that the fact seems implausible, the movie made with a dizzyingly sharp eye for the universal stuff of growing up.
Yet a timeframe of the late 1990s is soon clear from a breadcrumb trail of haircuts and music — and the pixelated fuzz of the digital video camcorder on which a chunk of the film is shot. The story is bound up with the past, rooted in the brief era after the advent of DV but before the iPhone. Then, every second of our lives was not yet reflexively captured for storage in the cloud. Instead, memories still mostly came only in fragments.
Here they involve a week-long stay at a resort in Turkey. The vacationers are father and daughter: sweet-centred Calum (Paul Mescal) and scampish 11-year-old Sophie (newcomer Frankie Corio). Such is the simplest version of the film: a charming, vividly detailed portrait of a family holiday, pieced together from loaded, low-res moments. The specifics of time and place are dead-on: wall-to-wall Brits, polo-shirted resort reps, a glug of Fanta, a listless “Macarena”. It will also be a Proustian rush for anyone who ever felt time pass differently out of school, the world transformed between terms. That certainly means me, and probably you too.
The child’s-eye view at the heart of the film is uncanny. It also often comes to rest on Calum. And here the other side of Aftersun takes shape: a more melancholy, complex picture. Sophie is still young enough for her father to be fascinating, a friendly giant, co-conspirator in fun. His big, goofy smile is that of an overgrown kid himself.
And yet when Sophie borrows his Sony camcorder, she finds him out on the hotel balcony with his back to her, or wearing a more uncertain expression she can’t quite yet place. The camera sees all: witness to the eternal mysteries of parents, the kind children only understand on reaching adulthood, and perhaps not even then.
The late 1990s setting is evident in the clothes, haircuts and music
Later comes a perfectly weighted flash of time travel; a glimpse of the future for each character. The effect is hugely moving. But let’s say no more about that. Wells says it powerfully enough.
Aftersun is designed to stand or fall on its two central performances. Both Mescal and Corio are quietly spectacular. But the brightness of her stars shouldn’t obscure Wells’s own achievement. If her debut simply story-told this confidently with images alone, Aftersunwould already mark the most poised first film from a British director since another gifted Scot, Lynne Ramsay, made the luminous Ratcatcher in 1999.
But the magic doesn’t only lie in what Wells shows us. It is also in what she chooses not to: what she knows that, like children coming of age, we must work out for ourselves.
In UK cinemas from November 18 and in US cinemas now