Song of the Day #5,354: ‘Lucky You’ – The Lightning Seeds

Continuing the countdown of my favorite 2022 movies…

Best Films of 2022
#7 – Aftersun

Writer-director Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun is a movie that leaped in my estimation after a second viewing because the first time through I didn’t know what it was about until the end.

I suppose some could call that a problem with the movie. Or was I just too obtuse during my initial watch to spot the breadcrumbs Wells was sprinkling throughout?

Either way, I’m a firm believer that movies are best appreciated after multiple viewings, and Aftersun is built for return visits.

Given that fact, it’s perhaps counter-productive for me to give a spoiler warning here. Like me, you might get more from the movie if you know how it ends. But for those who prefer to go in cold, please know that I’m about to discuss the ending.

Aftersun depicts an adult woman, newly a mother, watching old home videos and remembering a summer trip she took with her father when she was 11. What is heavily implied but never said explicitly is that the father died shortly after the trip, perhaps by taking his own life.

Knowing the father’s fate transforms what seems like a collection of random memories into a visual poem of grief and remembrance, and a struggle to understand a tragedy no child should ever face. Every gesture masks hints of self-loathing and pain. Every smile and laugh feels like a lost opportunity.

Paul Mescal plays the father, Calum, with warmth and gentle humor, only occasionally letting the mask slip to reveal the turmoil within. I feel about his performance the way people must feel when an acquaintance dies of suicide — maybe you never noticed the signs but when you think back, you realize they were there all along.

Newcomer Frankie Corio’s Sophie is a girl who loves her father dearly and knows that he has troubles she can’t understand or solve. She also has her own drama to deal with, including romantic stirrings that emerge as she interacts with other young vacationers.

Their short time together, shot by Wells in the hazy, off-kilter style of a home movie, or maybe a memory, is beautiful and sad. It’s both a languid, sun-kissed holiday and the dying embers of Sophie’s innocence.

Aftersun culminates in one of the year’s most powerful scenes (I wrote about it last week), in which the adult Sophie confronts the memory of her father in a metaphorical nightclub while the child version shares a last dance with him in a real one. It’s a devastating moment of therapy through art, and a conclusion that sent me, dazed, right back to the opening credits.

[Verse 1]
You’re lying again
Say you don’t, but then you do
I’m trying again
To build a wall around your heart
Then break it through to you
You make it happen

Everything’s blue now
Oh, lucky you (oh, lucky you)
There’s nothing to lose
And if it’s really true
Oh, lucky you

[Verse 2]
You’re chasing the moon
Reaching out to touch the stars
But you land too soon
What will it take to make you see
The way things really are?
You’ve got this far
So let it happen

Everything’s blue now
Oh, lucky you (oh, lucky you)
There’s nothing to lose
So if it’s really true
Oh, lucky you


[Verse 3]
You’re lying again
Give it up and tell the truth
You can’t stop the rain
It’s gonna fall on every roof
I’ve got the proof
And only you can make it happen

Everything’s blue now
Oh, lucky you (oh, lucky you)
There’s nothing to lose
So if it’s really true
Oh, lucky you

Oh, lucky you
Oh, lucky you
Oh, lucky you
Oh, lucky you

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,354: ‘Lucky You’ – The Lightning Seeds

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I almost watched this on a plane ride yesterday, but Amy wanted to see it also, and her screen wasn’t working. Maybe we will watch on the return flight, though I’m not sure it makes for a great viewing experience on a plane screen.

  2. Peg says:

    I rewatched your previous post on this movie and while I still found the scene disconcerting with the strobe lighting and flashes of the characters, I was able to understand why the scene was so poignant. Hope to catch up with this film at some point

  3. Amy says:

    Though I wasn’t as taken with the ending as you were, I may have loved the film even more. What an achingly tender window into the last days a father and daughter spend together as he does his best to create beautiful memories that will last her.

    The karaoke scene is the musical moment that stood out for me as Calum’s inability to perform despite doing everything he can to perform the role of happy go lucky dad broke my heart.

    What a special film this is.

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