One of the movies that has received some Oscar nominations that I had never seen was The Father. Sir Anthony Hopkins was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a film that I was not 100% sure actually had been made. That’s a joke, but it has not been readily available for sure.
However, The Father arrived this weekend on streaming (specifically Vudu) and I decided that the air of mystery on this film needed to end.
Hopkins played Anthony, an elderly man, whose daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) has been taking care of him and he has been becoming confused.
However, this is not simply a movie talking about Alzheimer’s Disease or any sort of decline in mental acumen. It is more than that. The film gives us scenes from the POV of Anthony. By doing this, the film creates a enigmatic jumble of memories and scenes that change per each one and we, the audience, have no idea which one is the actual reality. This is because Anthony was not sure of which of the moments was reality either. It kept the viewers totally off balance and uncertain about what they were seeing.
Anne might be movie to France or she might be looking for someone to move in and help take care of her father or she might be living with a man or they might be living in her father’s flat or her flat or … well, you get the idea.
By choosing this style, director Florian Zeller creates a symbolic reality about what living with this horrendous disease is like and going out of the way to provide an air of confusion to the audience.
Sir Anthony Hopkins is wonderful here, never sure exactly what is going on or why he is unable to straighten the thoughts out in his head. He keeps referring to another daughter, a painter named Lucy. We never are sure what had happened to Lucy, or honestly if she ever really existed in the first place, though it seemed as if she was killed in some kind of accident. Hopkins masterfully brings all kinds of emotional moments to the haze around him in reacting to Anne and the others that come in contact with him.
Olivia Colman is excellent here too, given a difficult assignment. She plays off what Anthony does and shows how important he is to her and yet, we understand the pressures and frustrations that go along with the role. She is shown in each of the POVs with a differing reaction but equal amounts of guilt and pain.
This is a powerful story with a lot of pain and depressing moments. It might be a film that is challenging to watch and may stick with you for awhile.