‘Aftersun’ is a drama movie written and directed by Charlotte Wells. It tells the story of Calum and Sophie, a father and daughter who take a vacation at a Turkish resort on the eve of Calum’s 31st birthday. On vacation, the father and daughter have unique experiences recorded on a video camera. As the narrative progresses, viewers realize that the film is a retrospective look at Calum’s life through Sophie’s memories.
Sophie’s attempts to reconcile with her father and understand the person he was outside of being a father to her leads to a riveting, emotionally tumultuous journey for the viewers. The film sheds some light upon Calum’s struggles as an adult but never really defines them in a meaningful fashion. Therefore, questions linger over Calum’s sexuality. If you are wondering whether Calum is gay in ‘Aftersun,’ here are our theories on the matter! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Theory 1: Calum Is Gay
In ‘Aftersun,’ Irish actor Paul Mescal (‘Normal People‘) essays the role of Calum, a single father who is turning thirty-one soon. Calum is from Scotland but no longer lives in his hometown. He has moved to London and sporadically visits his daughter, Sophie. Calum is divorced from Sophie’s mother. However, the former husband and wife are on amicable terms and have a friendly relationship. Therefore, viewers are left to wonder about the cause of the couple’s separation, leading to the theory that Calum is likely gay. In the film, we see an instance where Calum avoids getting into the details of his love life when Sophie quizzes him about the same.
Later, we see Calum have a conversation with a diving instructor. Calum’s body language and facial expressions hint that he is physically and even sexually attracted to the man. Similarly, in one scene, we see Calum eyeing one of the polo players by the pool. Hence, the film vaguely hints that Calum is gay. It s likely that Calum struggles with his sexuality. Given the film’s 90s setting and Calum moving to London to live with his “work” friend suggest that Calum is not openly gay and fails to embrace his sexuality. Moreover, Calum being gay would also explain why he separated from his wife. Therefore, Calum’s anxiety and depression in the film could stem from his sexuality, as Calum struggles to understand who he is as a person and tries to accept his sexuality.
Theory 2: Calum Is Not Gay
The film showcases Calum’s struggles with anxiety and potential depression. It is hinted that Calum has suicidal thoughts and acts emotionally distant from his daughter. The breaking point in the story comes when Calum and Sophie have an argument and spend some time alone. Calum has an emotional breakdown in the hotel room as we see him crying while he sits naked in bed. The scene adds a new layer to Calum’s emotional and mental struggles and clearly confirms that he is unwell.
However, no hints confirm his mental health deteriorates because of his conflicted sexuality. Moreover, the climax reveals that the film is presented through Sophie’s perspective as she recollects her father’s memories from their final vacation together in Turkey. Given that the adult Sophie is queer, it is likely that she would have seen the hints about Calum being gay and struggling because of it. However, that does not appear to be the case leading us to believe that Calum is not gay. Furthermore, Calum mentions a relationship with a woman that did not work out and shows interest in Sophie’s school teacher. Hence, it is safe to assume that Calum is straight.
Read More: Is Aftersun Based on a True Story?