28 May 2021.
THE FATHER ****
In this exceptional film, Anthony Hopkins embodies a seemingly fit father who is gradually falling towards dementia. He lives alone in a tastefully decorated London apartment which has been his home for years. He feels completely capable and does not want any nurse to live with him.
His gradual ebbs and flows of memory and comprehension, masterfully portrayed by Hopkins, are made even more impressive by the very clever script and direction of Frenchman Florian Zeller, based on his own theater piece of some years ago.
There is also the understated talent of another (along with Hopkins) Oscar-anointed performer, Olivia Coleman, playing his loving but distressed daughter. Superb dialogue, a huis clos in an elegant mise-en-scène, and innovative editing which may have your head spinning, add to the power of this film that deservedly took two Oscars – Best Actor for Hopkins and Best Adapted Screenplay for Zeller and Christopher Hampton. It should also have taken the Oscar for Best Film.
The father’s occasional bursts of impish charm, turning into rage at other moments, belie the torment going on in his mind. There is an aloof son-in-law (Rufus Sewell) who seems understanding yet can also become violent. There are interchangeable characters who muddle both the father’s mind and ours, making this a disconcerting puzzle, for we are actually living in the old man’s declining mind.
This unforgettable film covering the fears and feelings common to all of us will move you deeply. Beware of its consequences.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.