On Friday, I sat down to watch The Father. It is now Monday; three days later, and my eyes have only just dried.
I can appreciate that The Father may not be on the top of everyone’s watchlist during this current climate; nothing will cheer you up more than watching a lengthy drama about a man’s dementia, but when you do feel prepared (and, most importantly, hydrated) enough to watch it, do.
Ever since the cast announcements were made – seeing Olivia Colman starring opposite Anthony Hopkins – you knew there was going to be exceptional performances. It’s like saying that water’s wet, and that Mrs. Brown’s Boys is the worst thing to happen to humanity.
Olivia is stellar, naturally, but who knew that a TikTok star could act as well as he did? Anthony Hopkins’ performance in The Father is a shoo-in for the Oscar, with only, really, Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to beat. Anthony stars as a feisty 80-year-old, also called Anthony, who refuses any assistance as he ages and succumbs to his dementia.
His performance is not only powerful – I will defy anyone not to get emotional, as he breaks down, afraid and alone, towards the end of the film – but it is also filled with such subtle nuances. From the way he aggressively rubs his eyelid whenever he feels uncomfortable, to how he wanders aimlessly and fleetingly, as if he is totally unaware of what he was intending on doing, you can tell this is a role Anthony (the actor; not the character) has thought long and hard about. He hasn’t just thrown it together.
It’s amazing that you bask in every moment watching Anthony, as he flicks from egotistical, to raunchy, to aggressive, to lovable, to comical. At times, you almost forget you’re watching Anthony Hopkins.
Even more astoundingly is that this is director Florian Zeller’s directorial debut. I remember my first job; I was shit at it. There’s no way I’d be garnering critical acclaim like this.
It would be easy for a film like this to run its course pretty quickly, and to rely heavily on its performances; after all, there is no action, there are no explosions; it is just a man trying to cope with his dementia. But instead, as an audience, we too have to attempt to endure what Anthony endures. Different actors replace each other in roles; scenes repeat themselves; entire sets change; nothing is in chronological order. In fact, throughout the entirety of the movie, much like Anthony, you don’t know what’s real and what is a figment of his dementia.
Simply, it’s a really impressive – yet devastating – movie.