Review: ‘Aftersun,’ one of the year’s great debut films, is a piercing father-daughter story of survival
“Aftersun” is the best first feature, at least so far, written and directed by a woman.
That’s the verdict of one who grew up on the American West. Aftersun is one of the year’s great unqualified debut films, with it being described as “the best first feature, at least so far, written and directed by a woman.”
And, because it is so good, it proves that when it comes to women in filmmaking, we have just as much to offer as the boys.
What’s special about this film is its emotional journey from a woman’s discovery of her father (Vince Vaughn) and his survival (a survival that has taken on an almost mythical life) to the present day as she and her son try to adapt to a new life far away from his home.
“It’s a film about the power of forgiveness. The power of letting go, and I don’t mean just letting go of my anger or letting go of bitterness or letting go of resentment. It’s letting go of all those things,” says director Bille August. “Aftersun is about living, and I think that’s why Vince put his heart and soul into it.”
That he did, although not in the way you might expect. When he was working, it was to make deals where money came first, and he ended up talking to the wrong person.
“When we were starting out, we didn’t really have an understanding of how good and complex this story was. I mean, it’s only now I think I’ve finally come to understand it,” he says.
The film’s title comes from a book he read in prison, The Sun and its Secrets.
“I was thinking about the sun of our home. I was thinking about how one day it would burn out, then another day it would shine, and a third day it would be cold again,” he tells us.
“I’m not sure how much of it was true.”
The film was originally called The Sun and