The Reel Review

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Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman star in this heartbreaking drama about a man losing his grip on reality due to dementia. Writer/director Florian Zeller’s 2012 French play – adapted with Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liasons) – is told mostly from his protagonist’s increasingly disoriented, factually-murky perspective.

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Anthony Hopkins, 83, gives a career-defining, masterclass performance – expressing confusion, rage and despair over a never-ending nightmare of changing circumstances. He is distraught as the familiarity of his home – his safe space – cruelly slips away. You really get a feel for what it is like to experience dementia. Olivia Colman is also excellent, although Zeller’s inclusion of her character’s perspective, as his worried daughter, does cloud the narrative a bit. Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) is also exceptional.

Imogen Poots, Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins in The Father

The Father is unsettling, its ever-present feeling of disorientation on par with recent end of life films Amour and Still Alice. For a stage play adapted to film, the production design’s changing interiors – some subtle, others more shocking and sudden – are very cleverly done. The Father is absolutely gut wrenching and will hit close to home for anyone whom has experienced the loss of a loved one to dementia.

REEL FACTS

• For the film, Florian Zeller named his main character Anthony, sending Anthony Hopkins the script in 2017 with the hope he would accept the role.

Frank Langella and Kathryn Erbe in the 2016 Broadway production of The Father.

• The Father marks the second time that a role Frank Langella played on stage has been played on film by Anthony Hopkins. The first was Richard Nixon in 1995’s Nixon. (Langella reprised his performance in 2008’s Frost/Nixon.)

The Father has been nominated for six 2021 Oscars – for Best Picture, Best Actor (Hopkins), Best Supporting Actress (Colman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Zeller and Hampton), Best Film Editing and Best Production Design.

 

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