Netflix just got my favorite drama movie of the last five years — and it’s 96% on Rotten Tomatoes

Paul Mescal as Calum Paterson and Frankie Corio as Sophie Paterson in Aftersun (A24)
(Image credit: A24)

I can still vividly recall watching “Aftersun” for the first time in late 2022. This emotionally devastating drama film made a huge impact on me, and after a couple of rewatches it's been solidified as one of my favorite movies of the last five years. 

Recently when combing through the list of new to Netflix movies, I was especially pleased to see that the streamer added “Aftersun’ to its library on Friday (June 21). Its debut on the popular streaming service should give a whole new audience a chance to discover this gem of a movie, and it also gives me the perfect excuse to explain why I think it’s so special. 

If you’re looking for something new to watch this weekend, and you don’t mind a movie that will leave you emotionally drained, then “Aftersun” should be at the very top of your Netflix watchlist. Here’s why this drama flick is an essential watch…

What is ‘Aftersun’ about? 

Aftersun | Official Trailer HD | A24 - YouTube Aftersun | Official Trailer HD | A24 - YouTube
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"Aftersun" mixes the past and the present as we follow a woman named Sophie (played by Celia Rowlson-Hall as an adult and Frankie Corio as a child) as she reflects on a sunny vacation taken with her 30-year-old father, Calum (Paul Mescal), 20 years previously. 

Their trip takes them to a fading holiday resort in Turkey, and for a young Sophie, it’s a chance to spend quality time with her dad. Framed through her youthful eyes, their vacation is a pleasant mirage of poolside play and exotic excursions in the beating sun. 

But underneath the veneer of a carefree trip to a sun-soaked resort, there’s a serious dark side to “Aftersun” as Calum grapples with serious mental health problems and the struggles of single parenthood and adult responsibilities. 

Interspersed with the snapshots of their summer holiday, we see a now grown-up Sophie attempt to piece together the father she knew and the man she didn’t. 

‘Aftersun’ is beautifully sad

(L-R) Frankie Corio as Sophie and Paul Mescal as Calum in "Aftersun" now streaming on Netflix

(Image credit: FlixPix / Alamy Stock Photo / A24)

“Aftersun” is a triumph in nearly every single department. The feature debut of Scottish director Charlotte Wells, “Aftersun” is a riveting showcase of fearless filmmaking, and instantly marks Wells as a real talent to watch. Although, she’ll have a tough job trying to top this masterpiece with her next movie. The bar has been set extremely high. 

One of my favorite things about “Aftersun” is how it blends sequences made to look like home video footage with traditional scenes. This creates a fascinating contrast and perfectly displays how our memories often don’t mesh with reality. It all feeds back into the movie’s core narrative about an older Sophie trying to make sense of her recollection of her father. 

Paul Mescal received his first Oscar nomination for his performance in “Aftersun”. And while eventually the winner of the award (Brendan Fraser for “The Whale”) was worthy, I’m still a little salty Mescal didn’t pick up the golden statue instead. His performance as Calum, a deeply troubled man, is heartbreaking. The way he mixes in a deep melancholy even during seemingly happy scenes gives every moment an appropriately poignant energy. 

Paul Mescal as Calum in "Aftersun" now streaming on Netflix

(Image credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo / A24)

But as good as Mescal is, Franke Corio matches him every step of the way. This is all the more remarkable considering that Corio was only 10 years old when cast in the role. She gives a mature performance beyond her years, imbuing Sophie with a youthful optimism but also a clear weight on her shoulders as she bottles up insecurities and the sense that everything isn’t quite as rosy as her father attempts to claim. It's clear sees through the facade, even if her young mind can't comprehend the full picture.

Between its magnetic leading performances, and its narrative that blurs together vacation footage and dream-like sequences, “Aftersun” connects on every level. Yes, it’s emotionally draining, and you might find yourself grabbing for a tissue (my partner was practically sobbing the first time we watched it), but a movie this rich is worth the tears. 

‘Aftersun’ reviews — critics adored this movie

I’m certainly not the only one blown away by “Aftersun”. The coming-of-age drama currently holds a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes from almost 250 reviews, and its audience score is similarly high at 82%. 

RT’s Critics Consensus reads, “Led by Frankie Corio's tremendous performance, Aftersun deftly ushers audiences to the intersection between our memories of loved ones and who they really are.” That’s an assessment that I very much agree with. 

Anna Bogutskaya of Time Out noted that “the chemistry between Mescal and Corio plays out effortlessly” and “the light moments between them are warm and the darker ones linger heavily.” Meanwhile, BBC’s Victoria Luxford labeled it “tremendous” and praised the movie for the way it “looks at a hard topic like depressing in a very beautiful and human way.”

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times was also a fan. “Every moment, every snippet of dialogue, every detail down to the smallest role or the tiniest detail in the background feels like a vibrant slice of real life,” they said in a glowing write-up. 

You need to stream ‘Aftersun’ on Netflix

Paul Mescal as Calum in "Aftersun" now streaming on Netflix

(Image credit: Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo / A24)

“Aftersun’ is a movie that has lived in my brain ever since I first saw it. And while it’s definitely not the easiest watch, especially for viewers who can relate to some of its heavy topics, it’s a true modern masterpiece. 

Anchored by two incredible performances from Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio, and crafted to near perfection by director Charlotte Wells, "Aftersun" is utterly stunning.

If you haven’t seen “Aftersun”, I cannot recommend it enough, and now that it’s arrived on Netflix there’s no excuse not to see what all the fuss is about. While it might be a little slower-paced for some viewers, stick with it till the end and you’ll be greatly rewarded. 

“Aftersun” isn’t the only highly acclaimed movie that’s been added to Netflix this month (though, in my opinion, it’s the best of the bunch). Here’s a rundown of all the new Netflix movies with high Rotten Tomatoes scores in June 2024 if you need more recommendations. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.