The Father (2021) Movie Review (Guest Written By Ben Shane)
The Father is directed by Florian Zeller stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman and follows the titular "father", played by Hopkins, as he and his daughter deal with his rapidly worsening dementia.
Coming out of Sundance last year, I couldn’t have been less excited for this film. In my opinion, it posed itself as your average run-of-the-mill Oscar bait that seniors would have fled out in flocks to see in theatres. This couldn’t have been further from the case.
The Father features one of the most inventively told pieces of dramatic cinema I’ve seen in a long damn time. Told in the perspective of the titular character, the film is presented in a way that allows the viewer inside Anthony’s head. The way this film portrays dementia is fascinating. Having multiple actors play multiple characters is an ultimately effective storytelling technique that allows a fantastic screenplay to shine, the actors to do something completely out of the ordinary, and the editor to structure and time the film in a manner that is obviously off-putting, but incredibly successful as an exercise in just how far you can push film form.
Olivia Colman is at a current peak in her acting career after being attached to such massive projects like winning best actress for The Favourite, and also being in The Crown and Fleabag, so it’d be difficult for a film with her attached to it currently to be poor, and her performance in this film proves me right. However, the absolute star of the show here is Anthony Hopkins. Bringing in arguably the most compelling role of his since Hannibal, he is truly fascinating and heartbreaking to follow throughout all 90 minutes of this film’s runtime.
The film is quick and doesn’t spare a single second of it’s story to let up. Without spoiling too much, the film simultaneously takes place in real-time, and a couple years. The way how this occurs is brilliant writing.
For as smart and successful of a premise, my biggest complaint about this film was it’s directing. While it is based on a play and ultimately takes place in one apartment location (which’s set design is beautiful and intricate), I couldn’t help but to want more from the camera. It remains static throughout the film, not contributing to the storytelling whatsoever, and I wish it did, just like so many other auteur indie films being made right now.
Overall, The Father is an incredibly emotionally effective drama that I can’t recommend to people dealing with dementia within their own families, as it is an upsetting film, but nevertheless is brilliant within its storytelling and acting.
The Father gets a 9/10! (4.5/5!)
Special thanks to Elevation for a screener!