‘The Father’ depicts the relationship between the elderly Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) and his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) as the former's mind disintegrates as a result of his dementia. As unfamiliar faces appear in his apartment, and the relationship between reality and fiction, as well as past, present and future, become ever more equivocal, Anthony remains resolute, proud and unwilling to accept outside help.
‘The Father’ continually has you on your feet as to what it is you’re actually watching. The single setting of the apartment make its origins as a play apparent. And yet, the director and co-writer of the feature, Florian Zeller (who also penned the theatrical production), skillfully uses the medium of film to transform the work, which is made even more impressive by the fact that this is Zeller’s feature directorial debut.
Thrilling, dramatic, and heart-wrenching, ‘The Father’ is intoxicating from start to finish. In a career that has seen so many outstanding roles, Anthony Hopkins delivers one of his greatest performances ever. Olivia Colman too is just phenomenal, and the supporting ensemble in Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams, Imogen Poots and Rufus Sewell, are all excellent. The movie is a masterclass in acting.
Whether the scenes are two handers or three, many sequences are fraught with tension, and each is brought to life by emotive, rich performances, which range between amusement, frustration, fear, and fury. The characters appear trapped in the space of the flat, and in time – for little changes and yet nothing stays consistent. It is hard to pin down a single standout sequence. There are so many remarkable moments between Anthony meeting Laura (Poots) for the first time and convincing her he is a tap dancer, the engrossing push and pull dialogues between Hopkins and Colman, the upsetting dinner scenes, Anthony’s blowouts, and that shuddering finale.
‘The Father’ will immerse its audience into the unstable, devastating mind of its central character. It is as compelling as it is insightful and sensitive, every intense moment, every emotional word and utterance, effectively communicated and deeply felt by the audience. It’s not often that a film like this comes along, that feels unlike any other feature that has come before it, and that you can’t imagine any viewer coming away from any less than utterly enthralled and heartbroken.