The Father (Drama) [Based on Play] (2020)
Director: Florian Zeller [Based on Play]
Writer: Florian Zeller, Cristopher Hampton
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots
Suffering from dementia, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) refuses any help from his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman). She has suggested that he live with a caregiver from this point onward, yet her efforts are in vain. Trying to adjust, Anthony’s mind deteriorates to the frustration and anguish of his family.
Serving as Florian Zeller’s directorial debut, he faces a topic that seems to be a theme as of late, with films like ‘’Relic’’, ‘’Falling’’, and ’’ Supernova’’. Yet unlike movies such as ‘’Relic,’’ it takes a realistic approach, not relying on anything but drama as a genre, just as ‘’Supernova’’ did, but in an even more limited location. Adapted after Zeller’s play ‘’La Père’’ it premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Opening with Olivia Colman’s character Anne walking towards Anthony’s apartment, you assume she’d be the main character, though when she enters, and the first sequence is over, the perspective shifts more towards Anthony. Following the elderly man through his apartment exhibiting his fickle mind as he interacts with characters that even the viewer doesn’t know exist or not. It is a balancing act, every moment being seen through the eyes of Anthony as the apartment around him and the other characters slowly changes, reflecting his dementia.
Personally, I luckily do not have any experience with the disorder in question, but this is a feature that is rightfully showered in awards, both national and international. While it will undoubtedly hit closer to home with relatives of someone that has or had a dementia-related disorder in the past, it is still both a gripping and, at the same time, haunting experience for anyone that doesn’t necessarily fit into that category.
Both inventive and masterfully acted, there’s something special and unique about ‘’The Father’’. The simplistic yet complicated narrative and the subtle revisions in a limited environment work so amazingly well in weaving the family-based story together; nothing really breaks the immersion, with a fitting soundtrack and smooth camerawork.
As the natural script draws to an end, everything shifts for the viewer, first trying to relate with the daughter and her difficult situation than turning into a heart-wrenching and painful portrayal close to reality in a cinematic form.
''The Father'' is the most painfully realistic depiction of Alzheimer’s I’ve ever seen.