March 8, 2021

SCREEN | Anthony Hopkins Remembers 'The Father'

"There's something funny going on."
Anthony Hopkins Olivia Colman Florian Zeller | The Father
Sony Pictures Classics / Elevation Pictures
French playwright turned first-time director Florian Zeller adapts his own award-winning stage play Le Père with a fine British cast in The Father. Starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman as an aging but posh elderly Londoner and his frustrated but caring middle-aged daughter, there's more than a heartbreaking yet elliptical quality to its dramatization of a family struggling with the affliction of dementia in a parent.

We're not exactly sure what's going on as Hopkin's character (also named Anthony) struggles with his memories and a deteriorating condition where his daughter is sometimes played by Colman and also Olivia Williams—who obviously share first names and a general appearance in real-life. What exactly is going on? It's purposely confusing, or possibly deceptive, in order to place you into the drama of Anthony's mental state and mimic his confusion just as breezy Imogen Poots tries to help him as his would-be caregiver.

Life begins to blur with changing characters, apartments, and circumstances. However, Hopkins is firm in tiptoeing between a reckless charm, confused wonder, and sad dysfunction with a grace and ease that reminds us why he's such an effortless star well into his years. Zeller's script, co-written by fellow playwright Christopher Hampton, uses its theatrical stage roots to enhance its character drama before using its seamless editing and basic cinematic tricks to advance time, different actors, or situations.

Hopkins is stable despite the grim film's inherent contradictions of cognitive dissonance. Carried by its star, The Father toys with elegance in its emotional manipulation. Its manifestation of dementia and aging pulls you through its all too real subject matter while remembering it's still a piece of art and entertainment.

The Father screened at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Panorama stream. It will be available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand starting March 26th.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire

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