The 2023 BAFTA Film Awards took place at the weekend, with All Quiet on the Western Front emerging as the big winner, taking away seven of the 14 awards it had been nominated for, while The Banshees of Inisherin won four awards.


Aftersun emerged victorious in one of the four categories it had been nominated in, with Charlotte Wells picking up the trophy for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

The movie, which was released in cinemas in 2022 and is now available to stream with a subscription to Mubi, stars newcomer Frankie Corio as 11-year-old Sophie and Normal People's Paul Mescal as her dad Calum, who spend a summer holiday in Turkey in the early 2000s.

Told via a framing device that sees adult Sophie look back at camcorder footage she and Calum shot during the holiday, it's a beautifully made film that mixes nostalgia with melancholia before ending on a rather ambiguous note.

If you need a little help unpacking those final moments, read on – but beware that there are major spoilers for Aftersun ahead.

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Aftersun ending explained: what happens to Calum?

Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio in Aftersun.
Paul Mescal as Calum in Aftersun. Sarah Makharine

As we are shown various scenes from the holiday throughout the film, it gradually becomes clear that although Calum is doing all he can to ensure Sophie is enjoying herself, he is facing major mental health struggles that impact his ability to care for her.

At the time, Sophie was likely too young to fully realise what her father was going through, but watching the camcorder footage back as an adult she can now more clearly pick up on his difficulties.

Interspersed throughout the film, there are various snippets that show Calum dancing in a nightclub, with adult Sophie appearing in the distance and trying but failing to attract his attention before she eventually approaches him and pushes him.

This moment is juxtaposed with a warm moment from the final night of the holiday when the pair dance to David Bowie and Queen's Under Pressure before sharing a warm embrace.

The film ends at the airport, where we see Calum filming Sophie as she waves goodbye before she turns round and walks through a set of double doors, behind which we can see strobe lighting.

Wells does not make it explicit what happened to Calum after that, but the implication is that he is no longer in Sophie's life and that this was one of the last times – if not the very last time – that she saw him.

Whether this is because he took his own life or because his mental health struggles worsened to the point he lost touch with his daughter is up to the viewer's interpretation, but to Sophie, he clearly now exists only through the video footage and as a memory.

Read more: Normal People star Paul Mescal to lead Ridley Scott's Gladiator sequel

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