His father is a 2020 drama film directed by Florian Zeller. The film was co-written by Florian and Christopher Hampton. This French-English joint production was based on the play La Père by Florian Zeller himself. It stars Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots, Mark Gattis, Rufus Sewell, and Olivia Williams. This film is about the cognitive struggles of an aging father with dementia.
His father premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 27 January 2020. Its UK release date has been changed from 11 June 2020, due to the pandemic. Critical reception of the film was very positive. Critics liked and praised Hopkins and Coleman for their sincere performances. The film also received critical applause for its creative portrayal of dementia. The film was also a Golden Globes winner with 4 nominations, including one for Best Picture – Drama.
The Father is a truly heart-wrenching film about the crumbling relationship between father and daughter. The father (Anthony Hopkins), suffering from dementia and leading an unstable life, became a stranger to his family. With memories coming and going like the ebb and flow, the change in face, and the resulting volatility, Anthony’s mind betrayed him. He couldn’t tell anything, or faces, or anything. Anthony lives a life of constant anxiety, unable to distinguish one face from another. People, to him, seem to change their identities and names. Hopkins performed unparalleled in a dementia patient whose sanity continued to decline, and so were the relationships around him. Audiences are part of this ever-changing and confusing world, as is Anthony of Hopkins.
Also Read: The Father: Release Date, Plot, and Previews
Painful and Confusing Story
Anthony seems unable to keep the past and present separate. Her daughter doesn’t seem to keep one face or identity at a time. Its grip on time, person, or temporarily, slips more and more frequently. Sometimes, she couldn’t find her watch, other times, she met a man in her own house whom she didn’t know at all. His daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) sometimes seems like a very different person, played by a different actress (Olivia Williams). She couldn’t believe it when the stranger in the house claimed to be her daughter’s husband. Anthony is confused, because his daughter is divorced, or is he? The man also changes face. This jumbled sequence of events and unreliable identities made for a terrifying experience, both for Anthony and the audience.
Amid a bewildering riddle of strange faces and the time passed, Anthony clung to his watch. His disorientation led him to believe that “something funny was happening.” The morning seemed to turn to midnight in the blink of an eye, and time seemed to move in any way but in lines. The sudden and erratic change in chronology of events and performances makes Anthony charming one minute, and cruel the next. And this constant change in behavior and personality was best described by the great Hopkins. And we as viewers are his company during this psychological struggle, as clueless as he is. As the story begins to unravel and things start to make sense, this is not a comfort but a frightening and sad realization.
Dealing with Dementia, the Father Is a Story of a Broken Relationship
Olivia Colman plays Anne, Anthony’s daughter, passing her father’s soul with her. She played the role, maintaining a smile through her tears and exuding patience when she was broken on the inside. She is warm and caring towards Anthony, putting up with his changing moods and temperament. Anthony can be a very vulnerable and abusive parent at times. Anne tries her best to face her sick father. Sometimes, Anthony would yell at her, insult her, or say that her younger sister was always her favorite. Olivia brings warmth to her role and a painful performance. When the wall of cognition and memory collapsed for Anthony, Anne devoted herself to his treatment. This had a devastating effect on her marriage, as expressed through her husband Paul’s interaction with Anthony.
The strange man that Anthony finds at his home, is Anne’s husband, Paul (Mark Gattis). She was not as empathetic to Anthony’s condition as was Anne’s. It was revealed that the relationship between Anne and her husband had broken up. Paul’s hatred for Anthony becomes clear in the scene where he asks if he wants to continue destroying his daughter’s life. With a stranger claiming to be her daughter’s husband and then changing her identity also had a bad impact on Anthony. Hopkins describes his strife with absolute mastery. His approach to this role involved a little bit of physicality and demeanor – something his previous roles didn’t really need. There is an assertive and sad, vulnerable and cruel, and charismatic yet hurtful quality to her appearance.
Florian Zeller has done an excellent job adapting his game to the big screen. The limited space in which a film takes place is very much like a drama. The style, dialogue and incredible screenplay is the biggest attraction of this film. Zeller has succeeded in translating his award-winning drama into an equally brilliant film. The directions, although not as creative as technically, are still the best. Anthony’s deteriorating soul is depicted in a clandestine manner, but in a very real and believable way. One of the film’s successes is having the audience accompany Anthony’s debilitating mental health. You experience the same confusion caused by non-chronological shifts in time, space and identity, as did Anthony. This empathic experience was helped by Zeller’s great direction. Adapting the game is always a difficult task, but Florian excels at making his strings debut.
His father heartbreaking, captivating viewers, whether they have had experiences with dementia patients or not. Dementia is a really dark and dreaded aspect of aging. A cruel disease, it makes people forget even those they directly love. Details about almost anything get blurry and blurry. There are only fleeting moments of introduction. Dementia makes people lose track of the past and present, known to strangers, and even temporarily in everyday life. And this disturbing and bewildering state of affairs was nicely described by Hopkins in one of the finest performances of his life. Dementia not only caused memory loss but also caused the panic and anxiety she felt. Anthony can be seen blaming others for stealing, which has led to one nanny leaving his job. This results in sudden outbursts of cruelty or anger amidst a good, cheerful mood.
Great Performance By Stellar Supporting Cast
This accurate and disturbing film is supported by great performances from the star cast. While Anthony gave one of his best performances to date at the age of 82, the others did not fall behind. Olivia Colman beautifully depicts a daughter torn between taking care of her father and saving her marriage. His performance deserves as many awards as does Hopkins. The film uses a shrewd casting of Olivia Williams to portray Anne, whom Anthony doesn’t really recognize. That’s clever because both Williams and Colman resemble each other, making the confusion stand out even more. Anne’s husband was played by Mark Gattis and Rufus Sewell. While Mark played the more disapproving husband, Sewell’s appearance brought bitterness and sadness. The screen time is short but it perfectly shows how the marriage fell apart. Imogen is just as charming as Laura, a potential babysitter for Anthony.
The film is played from Anthony’s point of view, which makes it even more accurate. We watched the baffling events unfold the same way Anthony saw them. This, in my opinion, made the film believable and inconspicuous. It felt like a genuine picture of someone with dementia. The outstanding performances of the actors only help give the story and characters more credibility. For their debut, Zellers and his company have made an amazing film about the human condition that is rarely talked about. This film deserves all the recognition and accolades it can get – see you Oscar!