Director: Florian Zeller
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman, Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell
Anthony Hopkins gives one of the best performances of his career as Anthony in The Father, who is suffering from dementia, and relies on his daughter Anne (Olivia Coleman) to live his day-to-day life in his flat. This is a film that thrives on its great performances. Alongside Hopkins, Coleman is also fantastic in her role. Both are completely believable and heart-breaking to watch. The problem is that beyond the great performances, the film is shallow. You’ll feel sad watching it, but there isn’t enough to really draw you in, beyond dementia is a depressing subject.
The film is from the perspective of Anthony, using a disjointed narrative and clever edits, to give you the experience of someone suffering from dementia. It’s confusing and disjointed as you feel that you are living the same day over and over. Characters are replaced by other characters as scenes start to repeat themselves. It’s very clever and original in how it is presented. The highlight of the film is Hopkins. His performance is outstanding. He can change mid-scene so subtly and with so much grace. It’s completely believable, moving from charming and funny to angry in moments. His mood swings are powerful and believable to watch.
I wish there was more to say about the film, but that brings me to my main issue with the film is that it is mostly style over substance. While the film is genius in the way it is presented, there isn’t much beyond that. I didn’t find myself engaged with the characters, because outside of this horrible disease I don’t know who they are. Not much happens throughout the course of the film. There are snippets of day-to-day life.
Maybe I’m missing something, as it is clearly connecting with others and is getting rave reviews. I do think that Hopkins is very much deserving of the Oscar that he’s won. Coleman deserves massive praise for what she brings to the role as well. There are little moments and facial expressions that she gives that are perfect and make you believe that this is really happening. I just wish that there were more to it. In the end it is forgettable and didn’t engage me. The whole point is that dementia is horrible, but that really goes without saying.