‘The Father’ plays out like it was crafted for the theatre and so it should as it’s drawn from the stage play of the same name. Written by Florian Zeller and launched in Paris in 2012, winning a Moliere Award for Best Play, before hitting Broadway and London’s West End, where it won both Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Actor (for Frank Langella and Kenneth Cranham respectively). Zeller directed the film adaptation.
Anthony Hopkins is the titular father living with dementia. He’s cared for by Olivia Colman, rounding out the film’s cast are Mark Gatiss (The Favourite, TV’s Sherlock), Imogen Poots (Green Room, A Long way down), Rufus Sewell (Judy, TV’s The Man in the High Castle) and Olivia Williams (Victoria & Abdul an Education).
Hopkins is an erratic, slightly mischievous and highly independent man who, as he ages, refuses all assistance from his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman). Yet, such help has become essential following Anne’s decision to move to Paris with her partner. As Anne’s father tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
The way in which the story unfolds and the narrative structure is superb. At times you will be doubting your own interpretation of how scenes have played out. The rollercoaster way in which this tale is presented compliments the bewildering nature of what Hopkins degenerative condition illustrates. The audience is an unwitting participant in all that it means to have your experience of reality challenged, constantly.
At times an uncomfortable watch especially as Hopkins becomes more bewildered and starts to question his own frame of mind whilst being adamant that he is right. ‘The Father’ is a masterclass in performances that call for empathy, reflection and translating the frailty of the human mind.
‘The Father’ is set for release March 12 2021