What Really Happens in Aftersun?

Aftersun is a story about how we remember. It is also a story about a father and his daughter going on holiday in Turkey. 

But it’s also a story about… well, that would be a spoiler. So please stop reading now if you haven’t seen this movie, as I don’t want to rob you of the pleasure of discovering it for yourself. It’d be a great shame if you read this and went into a cinema assuming I’m right.

With all that said: spoilers!

3 Replies to “What Really Happens in Aftersun?”

  1. He’s definitely Gay – and it’s definitely why he dies – The evidence isn’t even that subtle. The information he delivers and the way he delivers it. The loving/friendship with Sophie’s mother… Sophie’s mother knows this about Calum the way my female friends I had a one time thing with in high school knew about me later that year.. when I learned that I was bi/gay.

    But the timing with the songs would have been 96 and 97 (especially if the songs are old enough to be on Karaoke) could be 98…when the cocktail treatments were going out. Not saying he would ever get those treatments.. but if that’s your take, I agree with you. But that specific part doesn’t have to be that far for me.

    Mental health is enough of a killer – especially back then.

    I think, he’s suicidal. He’s having a hard time coping with the forces in the world he can’t control. He’s made the decision.
    I don’t see this as a movie that is all about Sophie and her memories. I see that as a piece to the film but not the whole critics have made it out to be and certainly not what Paul Mescal has been saying in interviews. What you see with Calum is what happens – it’s real.

    I don’t agree with others that think this movie is about Sophie trying to figure her dad out after all these years. She knows her dad. She’s remembering the last time she had with him. Calum took his life probably 48-72 hours after they departed.
    So much of the movie is stuff she couldn’t know. In that way, this movie is as much about his perspective as hers. There is a lot of double-imagery and use of reflection to push certain things further home for the viewer and that is a wonderful technique for a first-time filmmaker.

    Suppose it was only mental illness. The evidence we have of Calum trying to deal with his anxieties and his depression. In late 90’s Scotland if you went to a hospital for mental health you’d lose your job, you’d lose sooo much. I have a small amount of family in Aberdeen. Mental health is just not something you could talk about like that back then. Mental health is barely accessible in certain places in the states.. for certain families having someone in therapy is like…. enough to make a person lose so much. Again.

    He’s had a hard childhood. He can’t cope with his adult life. He knows this is a last hoorah with his daughter. At times he makes subtle plans for the future. But it’s brief and even someone with a life sentence has moments of what if and maybe then… it’s human to try and think you might have a 5% chance after you’ve decided more than 90% what you’re doing.

  2. I agree with you 100%. Literally every word you say makes perfect sense to me and adds haunting beauty to the film. I think you’ve hit the nail right in the head with your theories. And don’t forget that moment where he’s in the disco dancing….”waiting for that feeling to come”…and those quick shots of him intimately (though without touching) dancing with another man. Then the next shot is him recklessly standing on a railing. If he’s not gay, then these moments make no sense.

  3. What a beautiful and accurate interpretation of the film –
    Exactly how I read it – though I think the film is about how on reflection we understand or come to see a reality we didn’t do before – in the case of the film, because Sophie was too young.
    I thought he was gay (those night club scenes?) but that the shoulder was a bite from a guy in the disco – not too clear about that but very evocative – thanks so much for taking the time to write this. You write beautifully

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