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the father

★★★★★

director: Florian Zeller (debut)

starring: anthony hopkins, olivia coleman, imogen potts and olivia williams

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

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.

The only movie I have ever seen that truly terrified me was the Silence of the Lambs. I watched it in my early teens (bad mistake) at my mates house late at night during a sleepover (mistakes are mounting) while there was a raging storm outside (what was I thinking???!!!)

 

Even though Anthony Hopkins scared the hell out of me as the menacing, manipulative and man eating Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I was completely transfixed by his performance. It felt as though I wasn’t watching an actor but that I truly was a fly on the wall watching a true madman at play. Hopkins deservedly went on to receive nearly every acting gong that year including the Oscar for Best Actor. But even though he gave a towering performance in Silence of the Lambs, his performance in The Father completely transcends it. Anthony Hopkins gives a devastatingly divine performance in The Father in one of 2021’s best films that will break you, heal you, embrace you warmly and give you incredible insight into one of society's hidden afflictions.   

 

Anthony is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne, encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can't make daily visits anymore and Anthony's grip on reality is unravelling. As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her? 

 

At first glance we don’t realise that we are seeing the world from Anthony, the father’s, point of view. It’s only as the film progresses and we slowly become confused as people pop in and out of his life, they say things to him that he doesn’t remember or misses and things change ever so slowly around his flat that we realise that something is amiss. 

 

It’s subtle but quite brilliant as we are drawn into his ever increasing chaotic and confused world. It deftly allows us all to experience the world of someone suffering from dementia. It’s a terribly frightening journey but one who’s rough passage is wonderfully aided by the love of his daughter and the support of his carers. As Anthony’s world becomes more confused we begin to discover what is really going on in the final act and the last scene is a gut punch of mammoth proportions that won’t leave a dry eye in the cinema. 

 

As I’ve mentioned Hopkins gives a sublime performance and perfectly captures the changing moods of the character Anthony from flirty to childlike, confused to completely in charge of his own senses. For an actor with such a varied and celebrated career starring in everything from The Elephant Man to The World’s Fastest Indian, it is evident that Hopkins in continuing to hone his craft and more than delivering as an actor. You will leave the cinema with the sense that you have definitely just witnessed a true master at work and marvel that you were so fortunate to do so. 

Anthony Hopkins gives a devastatingly divine performance in The Father in one of 2021’s best films that will break you, heal you, embrace you warmly and give you incredible insight into one of society's hidden afflictions.   

★★★★★