The Father tells the story of an elderly widowed parent, Anthony, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, and his daughter, Anne, played by Olivia Colman. Anthony’s journey into Alzheimer’s has reached a critical stage where he can no longer live on his own, and Anne herself is facing a change in her own living situation.
The film is a slow and intimate invitation into Anthony’s terrifying experience. The screenplay brilliantly creates a space of confusion and helplessness. Is that who this person is? Did I miss something? Where is this? The various settings are all similarly different to effectively make viewers wonder where they are.
The cinematography plays beautifully with a shaded lighting, entering the spaces, resting on the actors’ faces and creating shadowed mystery. Both Hopkins and Colman’s seasoned careers give them the experience required for their intense interactions.
Director Florian Zeller adapted his stage play for the screen with Hopkins in mind, going so far as to change the main character’s name from its original Andre to Anthony. Hopkins himself was drawn to the script when it was first presented to him during the production of The Two Popes and requested a delay in filming. Zeller was willing to wait.
As a 15-year-old, Zeller watched his grandmother slip into the shadows of Alzheimer’s. For Hopkins the script and experience of filming brought him back to his own father’s aging process. At 83, Hopkins is the same age as the character he brings to life.
Anyone who has lived the Alzheimer journey with a loved one will relate to Anne’s sense of helplessness and grief. Anthony’s unintended abuse directed at family and caregivers, as well as the surfacing of long standing family issues ring true and are painful to witness.
Hopkins received a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar for his role, and The Father also received an Oscar as Best Adapted screenplay. It has also received numerous additional awards and nominations. Colman deserves high praise for her supporting role.
The Father took my breath away but also left me weeping for the heartbreaking pain and sadness for all who experience this disease. (Rated PG-13 for language and thematic content. Lionsgate. In theaters now and available to rent on some streaming platforms.)