Movies that deal with deeply philosophical and sad topics such as aging lean into the sappiness. While other films take the more simplistic approach, "The Father" handles things in a new and heartbreaking way. We follow Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), who is going through the rough process of aging and possible symptoms of dementia (the film never specifies this). Between refusing help from his daughter Anne, played by Oscar-winner Olivia Coleman, and having a short temper, he begins to doubt the life he had and the fabric of how his mind works. What follows is sad but an incredibly moving look at the trials and tribulations of aging on an individual and those around him. What makes this movie so incredibly brilliant, in my eyes, are the absolutely fantastic performances across the board.
As Anthony, Hopkins is forced to essentially portray a variety of different versions of the same character. Going from a kind man to an arrogant and rage-filled monster to a child's mentality is hard to accomplish. His ability to switch between these different versions is absolutely captivating as it forces us as an audience never to know if we sympathize with him. That emotional roller coaster he takes us on is absolutely unlike any performance I've seen before. There's a certain amount of fear in the performance trying to do too much in too little time in less capable hands. We don't learn who this man was before the effects of aging kick in, which adds a surprising level of tension as to what could happen. By creating a character with so many different layers, I can safely say that it will be a true disappointment if he doesn't win the Oscar in April.
Our supporting players include Olivia Coleman, Imogen Poots, Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell. Each actor delivers an exciting performance, almost in the way of them not saying what their true intentions are. None of them are quite as layered as Hopkins, but all serve a purpose for Director Florian Zellar. Zellar being a first-time director, really hits it out of the park in this directorial debut. What he does so brilliantly is play with our audience's perception of what the truth is. Doing so allows us as an audience to gain a firm understanding of what Anthony thinks about as a character. Based on a play written by Zellar, who also wrote the script with Christopher Hampton, it really makes the most of the dialogue and setting. Particularly in how Anthony's house is used in the film.
Much like Anthony's continuously changing mind, the house itself constantly changes. Rather mundane things such as the positioning of items in a room add to the drama. For a film that revolves heavily around the themes of time and perception, it adds so much emotional heft when we're questioning what we see. Once we finally see the truth, it puts things in a quite moving and heartbreaking perspective. I have not been as moved and impacted by a final scene in a very long time, which comes after seeing the film twice.
"The Father" is a film that really could have crumbled under the weight of its intentions. We could've ended up with a film that doesn't quite hit us as hard as it does. However, we end up with one of the best films that, initially set to be released last year, has stuck with me greatly. After two viewings, I can safely say that not one film in all of 2020 and this current portion of 2021 has resonated with me in such a profound way. If there's one film to seek out, there's absolutely no question that "The Father" needs to be at the top of the list.
Watch Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TZb7YfK-JI