There’s no doubting The Father is a brilliant movie, but it may not be for everyone, especially if dementia is an issue for loved ones.
At the same time, The Father also provides an insightful look into the world of dementia sufferers.
It also helps those caring for loved ones to realise they’re not alone in the many challenges they face.
The Father is the story of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) an independent, intelligent 81-year-old man who lives alone in his London apartment and his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) his only living family member.
Anne has fallen in love and is planning to move to Paris and thus needs to ensure her father is cared for.
Unfortunately, all attempts at having live-in carers/nurses have failed due to Anthony’s wish to be independent and his actions which are caused by the dementia. He can be charming but then just as quickly become defensive, agitated and angry.
While Anne’s struggles to decide what’s best for her and Anthony are an important component of The Father, the movie is more about the challenges Anthony is facing.
So many things are happening to him he just doesn’t understand. Strangers keep appearing in his loungeroom, his other and more beloved daughter, Lucy, never visits him and Anne’s husband keeps screaming at him even though Anne tells him they divorced 10 years ago.
The confusion he feels is heartbreaking. Yet it’s clear Anthony also has a sense of humour and playfulness, which at times shines through.
It’s a movie that takes some concentration as, being Anthony’s story, it jumps from one scenario to another, in line with Anthony’s confusion. It all does eventually come together but it takes time.
One of the greatest joys of The Father is the exceptional acting of its two leads.
Hopkins is totally believable as a man trying to make sense of what’s happening around him. Colman is equally credible as a loving daughter dealing with the impacts of dementia.
The two leads are well supported by other renowned actors including Rufus Sewell, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots and Olivia Williams although this is most definitely Hopkins’ and to a lesser extent Colman’s movie. It’s no surprise both have been nominated for Academy Awards as has the movie.
Having seen a Melbourne Theatre Company production of The Father (the movie is based on the play by Florian Zeller) several years earlier, I had some idea what to expect from the movie, which is also directed by Zeller.
And while the play was excellent, seeing Hopkins’ portrayal on the big screen even better illustrates the devastating effect of dementia on sufferers and loved ones.
The Father is screening in cinemas around Australia from Thursday April 1.
- movie, reviews
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