STORY: Anthony (Hopkins’) inability to have a caregiver makes him more vulnerable to the tricks his mind plays on. Florian Zeller, writer-director, takes us on a chilling journey into Anthony’s unstable world as he struggles with accepting the reality of his mental illness.
REVIEW: Florian Zeller’s masterpiece, “The Father”, opens with a simple scene in which Anthony (an old man of good health) and Anne (Olivia Colman), argue over Anthony’s refusal to have a caregiver. Anthony’s inability to see the reality his mind has created is a distraction from his denial of his dementia. We are allowed to see his chaotic world where everything is not as it seems. Zeller adds a twist to the story with a disturbing and engaging execution that is both scary and thought-provoking.
To create a cinematic experience that depicts the inner world of a mental patient and his family, it takes a special talent. Zeller’s way of navigating through Anthony’s daily life is as fractured and as complex as his character. This creates intrigue and empathy. These elements keep us engaged to the story that exposes the dark side of mental illness. These realities are often not understood or seen by loved ones, or even doctors.
Zeller employs two Academy award-winning performers (Hopkins & Colman), who are equally capable in their respective roles. Hopkins does the bulk of the heavy lifting, and he delivers an energetic performance that is worthy of all the awards he receives. Hopkins is fantastically resurgent and amazing in every frame. But a few scenes standout for their ability to connect with his vibrant, unpredictable personality. Colman’s daughter Olivia Colman said, “He has his way.” Colman deserves praise for her calm performance as she struggles to accept her fathers’ deteriorating health and continually reassesses her reality. Her support is provided by fine actors such as Rufus Sewell and Mark Gatiss who offer a deep understanding of the fragile world of dementia patients.
Zellman’s “The Father” is more than just a movie that tells you a story. It’s an adventure and a journey into a world that is as real as it is fictional. This one is a celebration of cinematic geniuses, and it’s led by outstanding performances.