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The Father

 
 
Film Information
 

Plot: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
Release Date: Out Now
Director(s): Florian Zeller
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Rufus Sewell
BBFC Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 97 mins
Review By: Samuel Love
Film Genre:
 
Film Rating
 
 
 
 
 
4.5/ 5


 

Bottom Line


The Father is a disorienting and devastating look at living with dementia; as the person afflicted, and as those caring for them.


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Posted June 12, 2021 by

 
Film Review
 
 

In 1991, Anthony Hopkins took home a well-deserved Best Actor Academy Award for his unforgettable performance in The Silence of the Lambs, despite only appearing in the film for 16 minutes. His latest film, The Father, sees him onscreen for nearly every minute of the 97 minute runtime – and with his impeccable performance, he has bagged another Oscar.

Based on the 2012 play Le Père and adapted for the screen by the playwright Florian Zeller, The Father is an incredibly powerful and ultimately devastating look at the effects of dementia. Taking place almost entirely within the confines of a city flat, Hopkins plays the titular father to Anne (Olivia Colman) as he clings onto his independence and refuses any form of living assistance as the gruelling disease slowly takes over his mind. 

The Father is being marketed as a film of two performances – Hopkins and Colman – and it’s true, they are both exceptional. Hopkins especially offers some of his finest work to date with a heart-breaking and compelling performance that it’s impossible to tear your eyes away from, portraying all of the confusion, vulnerability and irritation that comes with losing one’s grip on reality. 

Despite the masterful performances, the film’s highlight is its fascinating and ambitious narrative structure that offers an often frighteningly immersive journey into the father’s fractured and diseased psyche. Told almost entirely from his perplexed perspective, the non-linear narrative loops scenes, changes actors and shifts set design, much to his – and indeed our – confusion. The result is an incredibly creative and powerfully authentic film that will probably take a few viewings to fully put the pieces together. But then, isn’t that the point? The Father succeeds as a terrifyingly accurate account of what it must be like living with dementia – and the film is all the more devastating as a result. As Hopkins’ character becomes more and more lost, so too does the film. And it is masterfully portrayed.

Directed by playwright Zeller in his filmmaking debut, this adaptation of the fantastic text isn’t hugely inventive in its direction – the story’s roots on the stage are certainly evident in its blocking, alongside the small setting, limited characters and monologue-esque dialogue. But, on the whole, the film is still a masterclass thanks to the utterly flawless performances and truly innovative narrative structure that have us questioning what is real and what isn’t in every single scene. 

Feeling like something of a companion piece to the equally affecting Still Alice, The Father is a disorienting and devastating look at living with dementia; as the person afflicted, and as those caring for them. 


Samuel Love

 
Freelance writer. Email: samuel@smlcreative.co.uk


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