Film Review – The Father (2020)

film, reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I missed a lot of films that came out in 2020 and 2021 because I wasn’t really in the mood for films. Lockdown and covid really hit me and I stopped bothering to keep up. This means that I’ve missed a lot of great films. Last year was the first year that I hadn’t watched all of the big Oscar nominees before awards season. So, as well as trying to watch new releases, I also want to revisit some of the films I missed. Why I started with this one is beyond me. I knew it wouldn’t leave me in a good place but the draw of Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman was too strong. What a pair.

Everything I heard about this film seemed to focus on one thing: Anthony Hopkins. It’s fair to say he is on top form in this film. His performance is so powerful and devastating. He truly deserved his Oscar win. It’s quite an intense role and he carries so much of the story. Yes, the supporting actors are all great and Olivia Colman, in particular, is amazing. Nobody can compare to the main man.

The Father is based on a play that was originally written by Florian Zeller, who made his directorial debut with the adaption. Of course, this isn’t the first film that delves into the world of dementia but there are perhaps none that do so in the same way as this film. Certainly, the films that I think of usually focus on the consequences for the family. Not this time. Zeller uses every technique at his disposal to put you into the mind of a man struggling with his memory. Anthony, a man in the grips of the disease and who is trying to

The way this film plays out is astounding. At times it feels like a thriller as we try to work out what’s going on. We, like Anthony, are trying to piece together the events so they make some kind of sense. It’s an incredible and terrible experience. Seeing the way his mind pieces together information. How his sense of time changes. Events are repeated with slight differences. Timelines change and constantly flip. Faces aren’t always the same. This is as close as the audience can get to being inside Anthony’s head without a first-person camera angle.

The Father isn’t the easiest film to watch and there are many poignant moments. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to stop yourself from crying through Anthony’s final speech. It’s a tough but intense story about grief for a person who is standing in front of you. We see Anthony’s mood swings and forgetfulness, which are tough to watch. However, it is the glimpses of the man he used to be that get you the most. The times when he laughs and has fun. The fun quickly turns into fear as he remains unsure about what is going on. It’s an unforgettable and powerful piece of filmmaking. Although, not one that I want to return to very soon.

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