The grand prize at the 48th Deauville American Film Festival was awarded on Saturday evening to Aftersun, by director Charlotte Wells, a poignant film about the relationship of a father on vacation with his 11-year-old daughter. This feature film, which succeeds the winners of Down With the King by Diego Ongaro, received the festival’s highest distinction. Aftersun, whose release date on screens in France is not known but which was acquired by Mubi at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival is the first feature film by director Charlotte Wells, born in 1987 in Scotland and living in New York. This very personal and moving film recounts the summer holidays, at the end of the 1990s, of Calum, an Englishman, a divorced father in his thirties, played by Paul Mescal (especially known in the series Normal People), with his 11-year-old daughter, Sophie, played by Frankie Corio, on the Turkish coast. To read also -> In Cannes, the rise of Paul Mescal that we expected Aftersun is a coming-of-age movie, dark and solar at the same time, which takes on the air of a holiday movie. Swimming pool, diving, ice cream and karaoke, the holidays of Sophie and Calum seem sweet and placed under the sign of a sincere father/daughter love. The story of their holidays is interspersed with images that they filmed, in turn, with the small family camcorder, and remind Sophie, now an adult and in turn a mother, of this adored but elusive father. After scenes of joy and smiles, with small, almost imperceptible touches, Charlotte Wells draws, between the lines of her summer memories, a darker portrait of this ambivalent father who is entirely devoted to his daughter. In a spitting at one’s reflection in the mirror, a fit of tears or a word of apology to one’s daughter, one senses a malaise that halos the story of a melancholy that has drowned us in a sea of tears. -film also subtly deals with Sophie’s transition from infancy to pre-adolescence, during which she forms relationships with teenagers in the holiday club and discovers first flirtations. In a delicate and personal way, Aftersun explores the themes of happiness, family ties, paternity and memory. every moment filmed”, enthused with AFP the president of the jury of the Deauville festival, Arnaud Desplechin. Yasmina Khadra, another member of the jury, judges Aftersun “very moving, with this little girl who tries to save her father, to prove to him that life is worth living. I liked this report. Suddenly, it is her, the mother of her own father, and she tries to enchant him”, reacted the writer. Léa Drucker, also a member of the jury, said she was “carried away” by this impressionist film. “I started crying right away. We have the impression that we are in someone’s memory and it is extremely subtle”, confided the actress. The critics’ jury, made up of five journalists, also awarded its prize to Aftersun, which had already won the French Touch prize in Cannes in May.
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