Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is eighty, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits anymore and Anthony’s grip on reality is unraveling. As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her?
Thankfully, I do not have anybody in my personal family that suffers from dementia and I genuinely hope that I will never have to see any of my loved ones go through such a horrible sickness. Just the idea of slowly losing your memory – forgetting who your friends and family are, forgetting what you did just moments ago, and so much more – is absolutely terrifying and I cannot imagine what it must be like to live your life while suffering from it.
Not only would it obviously be hard for the person that is actually suffering from dementia, but it would be equally hard on the loved ones. For example, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have my father forget who I was. The pain and heartbreak that would cause on any family would be immense, and Florian Zeller’s The Father is an amazing, touching, and tragic tale of dementia, and easily the best movie I have ever seen touching upon this subject matter.
One of the most unique things about this movie is that it sort of puts you in the mind of lead character Anthony. He forgets who his daughter Anne is quite often, and every once in a while, a new actress will be playing Anne, making us equally as confused as Anthony is. We know that it is Anne after a while, but the sheer disorientation that this causes is extreme. But it’s worse for Anthony because he doesn’t have the slightest clue as to who it is.
The film is without a doubt the definition of a slow-burn. If you don’t like movies that take time to be incredibly impactful and emotional, then you will probably find yourself quite bored by The Father. But if you are okay with films that take their time and use this time to build up to tell an amazing story in the long run, then you’re probably going to really love this one.
And we all know how wonderful of an actor Anthony Hopkins is – his performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs is still being immensely praised decades after its release, and really, Hopkins is constantly winning people over with his insanely impressive range. And as great as he was as Hannibal Lecter, I think his strongest and most emotionally impactful performance is in none other than The Father.
It’s easily one of the best performances in film in several years, and I genuinely couldn’t believe I was watching somebody acting throughout the entire running time. Hopkins’ role here is no easy task, but against all odds, he makes it look like a walk in the park. Hopkins is currently nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the forthcoming Academy Awards ceremony, and I think that he has a great shot at winning it.
In all honesty, when you boil it down, The Father is about as riveting and heartfelt as movies get. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and bask in the absolutely amazing film that director Florian Zeller has crafted.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language, and thematic material
Directed by: Florian Zeller
Distributed by: Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: June 11, 2021 (United Kingdom)
Running Time: 97 minutes