Inside Look at Dementia
The Father, a current Best Picture Oscarģ nominee, stars the great Anthony Hopkins (Oscarģ winner for Silence of the Lambs) in one of his finest performances. But beware. This compelling drama is definitely NOT a feel-good offering. However, it is deeply moving and enlightening. Like Sound of Metal, the storytelling involves whatís going on in the lead characterís mind, only this time instead of hearing loss, it deals with loss of memory.
Many viewers may think they are losing that faculty themselves as the film unfolds. Some scenes appear completely baffling. But that helps us understand what Hopkinsí character ďAnthonyĒ is going through. For example, heís mixed up about time and place, experiences violent mood changes, distrusts the people around him, sees things that arenít there, and canít recognize folks heís known for a long time or thinks they are someone else.
He canít remember many things.
Confusing facts each daylight brings.
He likes to follow with the time.
Is someone committing a crime?
His daughter tries to care for him.
But her luck with this plan grows dim.
What can she do to make things right?
At every turn, Father will fight.
ďThe FatherĒ is deeply moving.
But the story not so soothing.
This movie makes us feel not think.
Please pay attention and donít blink.
Portraying Ann, the long-suffering daughter, Oscarģ winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) also turns in a brilliant performance here. Her suffering as a caretaker seems heartbreaking, especially when Anthony brags about his younger daughter and consistently shows he favors her over Ann. No wonder Colman and Hopkins both earned well-deserved Oscarģ nominations for their splendid work in this film.
Hopkins excels at being charming one minute and downright mean immediately after. (Be sure to watch for his short tap dancing demonstration. Iím not kidding!) Colman matches that with her soulful facial expressions whenever Anthony hurts Annís feelings.
The Father ends with a simple plea of compassion for both Anthony and Ann. You canít go wrong with that. .
Florian Zeller directed and co-wrote the screenplay (with Christopher Hampton), which is based on Zellerís play. Although I havenít seen the play, I canít help wondering if watching something like this live would be even more gripping. Still, the movieís revealing close-ups in crucial scenes stand out and grab our emotions. And thatís the beauty of cinema.
The great tragedy of Alzheimerís disease and the reason why we dread it is that it leaves us with no defense, not even against those that love us. --- P.D. James
(Released by Sony Pictures Classic. Rated ďPG-13Ē by MPAA.)