Barry Jenkins opened Monday's Aftersun screening at the Telluride Film Festival with the following words: Give me about 20 minutes, man. I'm a fucking wreck.
The Oscar nominee and Telluride devotee appeared onstage both as a producer on the film and to moderate a conversation between writer/director Charlotte Wells and star Paul Mescal, but first admitted, I didn't want to see this, man, because I haven't seen it in a while.
Aftersun is a Wells fictional yet deeply personal film about a woman named Sophie (Celia Rowlson-Hall) reflecting on a 20-year-old vacation she took with her father that she did not know. Mescal, as young dad Calum, mostly factors into the parts of the film that are memories, opposite a young Sophie played by Frankie Corio.
Jenkins later described the project as assembling these feelings into a devastating film, although I have seen this shit six times.
Jenkins poked fun at how she is making the film a work of fiction despite casting Corio. He said she speaks like you, looks like you, and is walking around with a camcorder all this time in the film. Wells replied, Im not 11, it's uncanny.
Jenkins asked Mescal what it was like to get involved in this role? The producer said he had just watched Top Gun: Maverick before coming to the festival and thought, I don't think I've ever seen Tom Cruise play a dad or George Clooney play a father. That's something that men in Hollywood, or [male] actors don't get to do at such a young age.
The 26-year-old responded, There was just something about Charlie's writing this, because it felt to me like I wasn't aware of the implications of you shouldn't really be playing fathers, youre 26. I was like, This is a fantastic character. Im gonna get to go into the weeds with it.'
The Normal People star, who is now getting Best Actor buzz for the tender, poetic film, said he found it especially enjoyable to play a young guy and young father at the same time; but I do not know how well it will go from, say, high school teenage drama to the young dad in two years.
To be honest with you, playing the pensive Calum, one part of a father-daughter story that has made Jenkins and audiences throughout the world teary, was a no-brainer.