Aftersun (2022) Movie Explained: Why Does Sophie Rewatch Her Dad’s Videotapes?

Charlotte Wells makes her feature film debut with “Aftersun.” A daughter’s relationship with her father is sensitively portrayed in the drama movie and is examined through the lens of enduring memories. On the eve of his 31st birthday, Paul Mescal (from “Normal People”), a single parent, takes his daughter Sophie, age 11, on vacation to a Turkish resort. However, Sophie learns about puberty as Calum struggles with the worries that come with being in his 30s.

The emotionally gripping, slow-moving film offers an intimate look at the bond between a father and daughter, making it quite personal for the audience. It does not, however, address some of the important queries concerning the story and the characters. Viewers must therefore be looking for an explanation. In that scenario, the information you need to know about “Aftersun’s” conclusion is provided below. Spoilers follow!

Aftersun Plot Synopsis

Young Sophie begins “Aftersun” by filming her father performing “ninja movements” when they are on vacation at a resort. Due of Sophie’s embarrassment about her father’s behavior, she jokes around with Calum. The recording then cuts to a scenario when Sophie is seen saying farewell to someone at the airport. The movie then goes back to the very beginning and properly introduces us to Sophie, an intelligent eleven-year-old girl who is traveling with her father, Calum, on an aircraft. To commemorate his 31st birthday, the father and daughter travel to Turkey for a holiday.

Calum and Sophie travel to Turkey, stay at a resort, and discover their new surroundings. But it quickly becomes clear that Calum is emotionally cold. He still loves Sophie dearly and does everything he can to take care of her. The mother of Sophie and Calum are not together. Despite their divorce, the pair still gets along well. It quickly becomes clear that Calum is having some emotional problems. He had expressed amazement at still being alive at the age of 30 and questioned whether he would live to be forty.

It is clear from Calum’s conversations with Sophie that he is experiencing money issues. He is also single and hasn’t been in a committed, long-lasting relationship in a while. In addition to experiencing sudden bouts of sadness that he is unable to explain to his daughter, Calum has developed a pattern of self-hatred. He utilizes self-help books to mask his feelings and Tai chi to reduce his anxiety. Sophie observes her father coping with grownup issues that she is unable to comprehend or handle.

Sophie learns what it’s like to be a teenager at the resort. She hears numerous adolescent girls discussing and engaging in sexual activity. At a vacation, Sophie makes friends with a young guy who seems to have feelings for her romantically. As Calum dances at a rave in cutaways, strobe light flashes may be seen in the background. In a similar vein, Calum shows Sophie how to operate the camera as they document their trip.

After Calum declines to sing a karaoke song in front of an audience with his daughter, Sophie begins to feel a separation from him. While Calum experiences a mental breakdown in the hotel room, a dissatisfied Sophie spends some time alone. The recording ends as Sophie says goodbye to Calum and departs for home, signaling the conclusion of the episode. By this point, it is clear that there are interpersonal issues between the father and daughter as well as a façade that Calum is maintaining for Sophie’s benefit. The events of the trip alter Sophie’s perspective on her father and her adult life, which shapes the remainder of the plot.

Aftersun Ending: Where Is Calum? What Happens to Him?

Sophie sneaks off to spend some time by herself after clashing with Calum. Calum returns to the hotel room in the meantime but is restless. When Calum recovers, he goes to the beach. He disappears into the night’s darkness as we watch him go toward the sea. It seems as though Calum is being consumed by the darkness, depression, self-hatred, and sadness inside of him. The next time we see Calum, Sophie has just entered the room and he is already unconscious in bed.

Sophie and Calum go to a pool party on their last day at the resort. Calum enters the dance floor and moves about without inhibition. Despite feeling ashamed, Sophie dances with her father. More frequently than before, there are cutbacks to the rave scene. As an adult Sophie descends to the floor in the rave, Calum is on the verge of weariness. Calum has embraced Sophie in the past, but she has pushed him away. Adult Sophie, on the other hand, reunites with her father during the rave and reduces their separation. Calum begins to wobble as he clings on Adult Sophie, despite his best efforts.

In the end, we witness Calum leaving Sophie at the airport. He is the one who made the montage of Sophie that is shown at the start of the movie. After Sophie gives her father a silly farewell, we notice Calum recording the scene. He withdraws down the terminal’s hallway and vanishes behind a door. The strobe lights and brief door opening suggest that Calum arrives at the rave after dropping Sophie off at the airport. The r ave is a made-up location that probably exists outside of time and space. Calum resides in the memory-filled space Sophie has carved out for him.

While dropping Sophie off at the airport, Calum appears to be the same age as him and is dressed similarly. As a result, it is inferred that Sophie no longer interacts with Calum. Additionally, the movie emphasizes Calum’s melancholy and self-guilt multiple times. As he appears to be being crushed by a bus, we see him standing on his hotel balcony’s railing, almost ready to leap out and disappear into the water. All of these instances show that Calum is struggling with suicidal thoughts. Therefore, we think Calum committed suicide sometime after his vacation with Sophie.

What Is the Significance of Calum’s Dance?

The father-daughter relationship that we have been following throughout the plot has a satisfying yet unnerving moment at the movie’s end. Calum graces the dance floor on one side with his loose dance moves. In contrast, he dances frantically in the party as though his life depended on it. The first thing that strikes me as encouraging is the bright, sunny light. When it comes to the second situation, flickering strobe lights in the pitch-blackness give a warning that time is running out. The two distinct dance performances can be interpreted as representing Sophie’s two distinct viewpoints on her father’s adult troubles.

While Calum struggles to keep his grownup daughter in the rave, Sophie pushes her father away at the pool party. The tune for the scene is “Under Pressure,” a popular song by the band Queen and David Bowie. The song captures all of Calum’s psychological difficulties, both those he conceals behind his Tai Chi and artificial joy as well as those that surface during his interactions with Sophie and reveal his emotional estrangement from his own daughter. The atmosphere is filled with dread as a result of these unspoken and unresolved problems.

In the end, the very distinctive dances aid Sophie in understanding the guy Calum was outside of his role as her father as well as the audience. In the rave, Sophie at last admits that her father has diminished from the solid figure she once knew. But Sophie can’t seem to keep Calum in her clutches, presumably because she’s still processing the consequences of Calum’s deeds. As a result, when Adult Sophie and Calum eventually make eye contact at the rave, Adult Sophie is left staring at the reality that she was previously too young to see.

It’s possible that Sophie is deterred from clinging to Calum by this realization. Sophie probably believes that she could have helped Calum more as he was dealing with the demands of maturity. Calum tells Sophie that she can talk to him about anything in one scene. Perhaps Sophie believes her father’s duties could have been lighter if only she had shown him the same courtesy. Calum simply cannot maintain the façade he puts up at the pool party and gives in to the darkness of his thoughts, which is the terrible truth buried in the dance sequence.

Why Is Sophie Rewatching Her Dad’s Videotapes?

The last few seconds of the movie show Sophie watching Calum on the holiday videos they had taped. It is established in the opening scene that the recordings are being played on a TV. When Sophie questions Calum about turning 31, the same thing is clear. When Calum informs Sophie about being abused as a youngster, it is one of the most horrifying yet casual discoveries in the entire film. The opening scene gives us our first indication as to why Sophie is watching the recordings and, more significantly, why she is stranded at this specific time when the movie begins.

Adult Sophie is married and has a child, as we find out later. She too has comparable, if not identical, mental struggles to her father and is turning 32. As a result, Sophie can now see a side of Calum that she was unable to see when she was younger. The same can be seen in the film, where the camera frequently lingers on seemingly pointless images while the dialogue is spoken off-screen. Such a portrayal of the situation suggests that Sophie is rewatching the videotapes and is conscious of all the occasions when she was unable to understand her father’s troubles.

However, Sophie probably feels the need to rebuild their connection now that she is a mother herself. It’s likely that Sophie is still processing the death of her father. She must thus first comprehend the motivations behind his actions and witness for herself the pain that simmered beneath the front Calum gave Sophie. The emotional disconnect between the two makes it more difficult for Calum and Sophie to be father and daughter.

In spite of the fact that Sophie is aware of the trauma Calum’s parents caused him, she does not want her relationship with her child to be similar to Calum’s. She therefore watches the tapes in order to comfort herself by remembering the fun times she had with Calum. In the meantime, Sophie tries to look past or maybe even forgive any shortcomings he may have had as a father and a person. In the end, Calum lives in the fictitious world that Sophie’s memories of her father have constructed. Both letting go of and clinging to Calum hurt her equally. Tragically, Sophie and Calum’s relationship achieves equilibrium, enabling Sophie to embark on her parental journey.


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