‘The Father,’ directed by Zellman, is much more than a picture that basically tells you a tale. This is an adventure and a voyage into an insecure world that is both real and fictional. Hopkins is fantastically resurrected in this must-see film.
Critic’s Rating: 4.5/5
Anthony’s (Hopkins) aversion to being cared after by a caregiver leaves him increasingly vulnerable to his mind’s manipulations. Writer-director Florian Zeller takes us on a tense journey inside Anthony’s tumultuous world as he tries to come to grips with the truth of his mental illness, which has blurred the lines between his past, present, and future.
‘The Father,’ by Florian Zeller, opens with a deceptively simple scenario in which Anthony, a physically healthy old man, and his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) argue over his continual refusal to be aided by a caregiver. Anthony’s denial of his dementia is overshadowed by the artificial reality that his mind is forcing him to view. We, the audience, are invited inside his chaotic universe, where nothing is as it seems. But Zeller adds an exciting twist with an almost horror-like execution that is both frightening and intriguing, as well as thought-provoking.
To produce such an inclusive cinematic experience, reflecting the inner world of a mental health sufferer and those around him, it takes a rare sort of ability. The way Zeller navigates through Anthony’s life experiences is equally as jumbled as his character’s reality, and it creates fascination and empathy along the way. These components keep us engrossed in the story, which exposes the harsh facts of mental illness. This truth is frequently never seen or completely understood by the patient’s loved ones, or even by the physicians.
And to pull it off, Zeller enlists the help of two Oscar winners (Hopkins and Colman), who are equally capable in their different roles. Of course, Hopkins does most of the heavy lifting, and his performance is deserving of any prize he receives. In every shot, he is beautifully fresh and terrific, but a few sequences stand out for their ability to connect us to the entire range of his character’s dynamic and frequently surprising attitude. “He has his ways,” his onscreen daughter Olivia Colman adds. Colman, who is living her father’s declining illness and continuously recalibrates her world around it, gets all the plaudits for her controlled performance. Imogen Poots, Mark Gatiss, and Rufus Sewell, among others, provide excellent assistance, giving us a deep knowledge of the transient world of a dementia sufferer.
‘The Father,’ directed by Zellman, is much more than a picture that basically tells you a tale. This is an adventure and a voyage into an insecure world that is both real and fictional. This one is a celebration of the collective cinematic talents that shouldn’t be missed, led by some very exceptional performances.