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Aftersun Ending Explained

The ending of Aftersun is both emotional and ambiguous. It leaves viewers reflecting on themes of memory, loss, and mental health.

Aftersun, directed by Charlotte Wells, is a touching film that has received much praise. The story follows a father and daughter on a summer holiday in Turkey. The film’s ending has sparked many discussions and interpretations.

Plot Summary

Aftersun tells the story of Calum, a 30-year-old single father, and his daughter Sophie. They go on a holiday to Turkey. The film uses a framing device where adult Sophie looks back at camcorder footage from the trip. She tries to understand her father’s state of mind during that time. The holiday seems perfect on the surface. They swim, lounge, and play together. But there are hints that Calum is struggling with mental health issues. He tries to hide this from Sophie.

The Final Night

The climax happens on the last night of the vacation. Calum and Sophie celebrate with ice cream and dance to “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. This scene is full of joy and connection. It is one of the most memorable moments in the film. The dance scene is mixed with images of adult Sophie at a rave. She tries to reach out to her father, who seems to be dancing in the crowd but does not see her. This scene shows Sophie’s search for understanding and closure (Cinemablend).

The Rave Sequence

The rave sequence is key to the film’s ending. It switches between strobe-lit frames of Calum dancing and moments of darkness. This creates a surreal and confusing atmosphere. Adult Sophie sees her father across the dance floor. This could be a dream or a memory triggered by the song “Under Pressure”. It might also be a metaphor for Sophie’s emotional journey. She is dealing with her father’s absence and her own grief (NME).

The Airport Scene

The film ends at the airport. Calum records Sophie as she boards a plane back to Edinburgh. The camera freezes on a shot of young Sophie waving excellentbye. Adult Sophie pauses on this image in her home videos. This scene highlights the theme of memory and loss. It shows the fleeting nature of their time together and its lasting impact on Sophie (Screen Rant).

Mental Health and Unseen Suffering

A central theme of Aftersun is Calum’s unseen suffering. He shows signs of depression and anxiety. But he tries to create a happy holiday for Sophie. The film does not reveal the full extent of Calum’s struggles. This leaves much to the audience’s interpretation. It shows how hard it is to understand another person’s internal battles, especially from a child’s perspective (Netflix Life).

Nostalgia and Grief

Aftersun blends nostalgia with sadness. Adult Sophie revisits her childhood memories to understand her father’s fate. The camcorder footage represents memory. It captures moments of joy and sorrow. The film suggests that Calum may have died by suicide after the holiday. Sophie grapples with this realization as she watches the footage. This exploration of grief and the search for meaning in past events is powerful (Radio Times).

The Dance Scene

The dance scene to “Under Pressure” is significant. It symbolizes the fleeting nature of happiness and unspoken emotions. The lyrics, especially “This is our last dance”, resonate deeply. They highlight the fragile nature of Calum and Sophie’s connection. This may be one of their last moments of genuine joy (NME).


Aftersun is a moving film that leaves a lasting impact. Its ending is ambiguous and emotionally deep. It invites viewers to reflect on memory, loss, and mental health. The film’s subtle storytelling and strong performances create a poignant experience. It explores the father-daughter relationship and the impact of past events. Aftersun offers a heartfelt portrayal of love, grief, and the search for understanding.


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