Dementia is undoubtedly a terrible, terrible thing. Barking obscenities at people you know but no longer remember their names, unable to go to the shops without coming back with your trousers on back to front and soiling yourself in public are just some of the incidents we are aware and it’s for those reasons alone that we suspect our Editor is suffering from dementia (‘You’re fired!‘ – Ed). The Father is one of several forthcoming films that deal with the disease and playing that title role is Sir Anthony Hopkins as Anthony needing assistance with his day to day existence and so living with his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) and son in law Paul (Rufus Sewell). Or is he?
Based on director Florian Zeller’s own stage play and adapted for screen with co-writer Christopher Hampton they draw the audience into Antony’s world deliberately blurring the lines between what he thinks he knows. Much of this centres on his obsession with his misplaced wrist watch, (as much a metaphor for his loss of time as it is an indicator of his state of mind) as well as his belief that his daughter is moving from London to live in Paris meaning he will have to go into a home or ‘an institution’ as his sin-in-law unfeelingly calls them. We’re drawn into Antony’s world of confusion when Anne tells him that she’s not moving to Paris and that she was divorced five years previously. With a habit of firing any carer that Anne employs she brings in another, Laura (Imogen Poots) who he initially charms yet in the blink of an eye insults and increasingly confuses her with his other unseen daughter Lucy, the victim of a tragic incident.
Like ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom‘, The Father never manages to escape its stage origins but instead is a film of beautifully nuanced performances by two Oscar winners with Olivia Williams as the conflicted daughter but with the lynch pin role being Hopkins in a role that we’ve not really ever seen him play. He is at the top of his game here having played so many roles that are cold and not essentially relatable characters this sees the actor take a total break from his past. As the still proud and confident father now struggling to make sense of who people are and what he thinks is going on he is ultimately a fragile man unable to control what is going on in his life. To watch his breakdown that finally reveals a scared man who has never shed a tear before is as upsetting, devastating and as unforgettable as anything we’re likely to see this year in an incredible and wholly deserved Oscar winning performance.
Here’s The Father trailer…….