Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss
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…stunning, phenomenal… Pick your superlative.
Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), the central character in this terribly moving story, is about eighty years old, charismatic and charming (when he wants to be) – but he has dementia, and it’s getting worse.
He can be difficult and cranky and even frightening, and he’s in denial. All of this makes a challenging combination for anyone to deal with, not least his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman).
Anne is moving to Paris, and frustrated by (among other things) the way Anthony keeps driving away the carers she sends to his London flat.
With all this as a premise, the stage is set for a powerful drama, and The Father delivers on that. But what makes it original is the fact that – SPOILER ALERT – what happens (or doesn’t!) is increasingly presented from Anthony’s confused and deluded point of view. Scenes recur, the same characters are played by different actors and there is a weird circularity to the dialogue. It’s very clever, and sometimes the portrayal of Anthony’s disorientation is itself disorientating for the viewer.
This film contains what is probably Anthony Hopkins’s greatest-ever performance – which is of course, given the consistent calibre of his acting, really saying something. There’s a scene of his towards the end, which is wrenching in its verisimilitude, and very moving indeed. But everyone here is good, and there’s not a false note.
The Father is stunning, phenomenal… Pick your superlative. It’s theatrical in an old-fashioned but positive way, and particularly impressive because it manages to inject new potency and creativity into what might seem on the face of it to be an overly familiar cinematic subject. As long as you’re up for something disturbing and intermittently depressing, don’t miss it.