I’ve got to say that it’s truly beautiful that both theaters are opening and movies are finally being released! Of course everyone should still taking every precaution necessary but I think it’s safe to say that things are on the up and up. With that being said, Florian Zeller brings his critically-acclaimed play, The Father, to the screen. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January so people who didn’t have access to film festival circuits (i.e. me) can finally check out what everyone has been raving about. The Father is a about an aging man and his daughter who have to deal with his progressive memory loss.
This film is propelled forward and successful in getting its message across to the audience almost solely by its acting performances. Anthony Hopkins has been a staple in Hollywood for well over the better part of five decades and as far as I’m concerned is still in his prime. Just coming off of a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for last year’s The Two Popes, Hopkins is nominated, this time in the Best Actor category, for his masterful work in The Father. Masterful is the first word that comes to mind when I think about what Hopkins presented in the film. Anthony plays a character also named Anthony that is having to deal with an aging mind. Anyone who’s dealt with any loved one that suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s knows how distressing and heartbreaking it is for both parties. Hopkins is able to portray this character with so much fervor and honesty that he absolutely disappears into this character. His character goes through so many emotions throughout the film that it’s not easy to know how he might react at any given point. Opposite him is the always brilliant Olivia Colman who portrays his daughter Anne. Colman’s “Anne” is easy to empathize with if you’ve personally been affected by the same situation and sympathize alike because the characters and storyline is told so honestly. There are other actors but the two that are the clear standouts are Hopkins and Colman.
I seriously do not want to give anything away because I think everyone should watch this whether you’re a big awards season buff or a casual movie watcher. Florian Zeller is certainly someone I hope to see more from in the near future. The characters and film alike are multi-layered in so many ways. The characters are so fleshed out. While the story’s premise on the surface could easily be one that is told pretty saccharinely The Father is bold and makes sure to sugarcoat nothing. The film is rather disorienting and winds and weaves through the story so as to show us what the character Anthony might be experiencing and it is quite effective. By the end it’s still not 100% clear whether what we just watched was Anthony’s mind or reality and we have to come to the reality that sadly the character (insert here whoever you might have dealt with personally that struggled or struggles with dementia) will never know and a once formidable man dwindles into almost nothing being crushed by the uncertainty.
The film has also been recognized by the Academy in several of its below the line categories – being nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Production Design. And I have to say rightly so. The film’s editing is severely understated and adds to the confusion. As far as its production design goes it’s one of the more modern contenders but astounds in its design of the flat Anthony and his daughter live and how homey and cozy it feels at first but feels more confining the longer the character is stuck there.
The Father is one of my favorite of this year’s contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars! And I think that Colman is the one to beat as far as Supporting Actress goes. If it were another year I’d predict another win from Hopkins but he’s got some stiff competition and I’d wager the Academy awarding Boseman posthumously over everyone else because it’s worthy of all the praise.