Movies

Review: The Father

Anthony Hopkins at the latest peak of his power.

|

An old man named Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) has just heard an unfamiliar sound coming from somewhere in his large London apartment. In the living room, he finds a stranger (Mark Gattis) sitting in a chair reading a paper. This man says he is the husband of Anthony's middle-aged daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), and that this is actually his apartment. Anthony's world tilts. "There's something funny going on," he says.

Not funny ha-ha, unfortunately. Just moments ago, Anne, who is actually a divorcée, told Anthony she was moving to Paris. "I've met someone," she says. "The rats are leaving the ship," Anthony replies, with the flashing hostility that has become an abrasive feature of his crumbling personality. "You're abandoning me," he says.

The Father is the first film by French playwright Florian Zeller, adapted from his 2012 play in collaboration with the British screenwriter Christopher Hampton. The movie's muted power lies not just in showing us a man sinking into dementia, but in actually creating a semblance of the garbled world of that affliction so that we feel the same helpless confusion that Anthony does—for instance, when he encounters his daughter's husband again and sees that he is now a different man (played by Rufus Sewell). There's also
a lot of agita about the nurses Anne keeps bringing in to look after her fading dad—he doesn't like any of them. But if Anne is to wrench back control of her life, he'll have to let go of her. Either that, or die. (He's 80 years old, only three years younger than Hopkins himself.)

Padding through the apartment one day, Anthony overhears Anne and Paul discussing him. "We have to find another arrangement," Paul says, in long-simmering frustration. "A nursing home. He's ill." Later, approaching Anthony directly, Paul asks, "How long do you intend to hang around?" Observing Anthony awkwardly struggling just to put on a sweater, we realize that, as Paul fears, he could be here for a
relatively long time.

In a 54-year film career, appearing in everything from Spielberg and Woody Allen pictures to Marvel and Michael Bay movies, Anthony Hopkins can only rarely have been as penetratingly effective as he is here. As his character sinks ever deeper into disorientation, Hopkins allows us to experience exactly how that must feel. At some points he erupts into an alarming bonhomie, dancing and singing; at others, he seems almost uninhabited, his eyes dropping to the floor in search of something that's no longer there. It's an exhilarating feat of incarnation.

So it's a great Anthony Hopkins movie—not the first, though, is it? What makes the film such an indelible experience is that everyone else involved in its making (that would include the wonderful Imogen Poots and Olivia Williams) is also working at the top of their talent. Director Zeller maintains a meditative mood through the frankly theatrical use of scaled blue lighting as well as the music—heard through Anthony's bedroom headphones—of Purcell, Bizet, and Bellini. Especially praiseworthy is Colman, who's responsible for the movie's melancholy warmth. She's dealing with a character that might easily have devolved into cliché misery porn, but she seems uninterested in milking tears. Instead, she makes us see that Anne isn't just slowly losing her father, she's also losing any chance of happiness in her own life—a double sadness. It's nobody's fault, of course.

(The Father is now playing in theatres in Los Angeles and New York. It will open wider on March 12th, and will be available online, on-demand, on March 26th.)

NEXT: So Long as You Carry a Cellphone, the Government Can Track You

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I think this is one of the best blog for me because this is really helpful for me. Thanks for sharing this valuable information for free…

    https://www.aryawartapackers.com/packers-and-movers-in-dhanbad.html

    1. ░A░M░A░Z░I░N░G░ ░J░O░B░S░
      I basically make about $8,000-$12,000 a month online. It’s enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering I only work aboutQWE 10-13 hours a week from home. I was amazed how easy it was after I tried it copy below web.

      COPY HERE———->> GoOgLE CaSh 1

      1. I get paid 140 $ each hour for work at home on PC MAKE MONY. I never thought I’d have the option to do it however QWERDRT my old buddy is gaining 65000$/month VFE to month by carrying out this responsibility and she gave me how.

        Give it a shot on following website……..VISIT HERE

    2. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple NBL job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page….. Visit Here

    3. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and POT simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page….. Visit Here

  2. I’ve seen this happen several times. Decrepitude sucks.

    1. Start working from home! Great job for everyone! stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income…You can work this job As part time or As A full time job.You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection…Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom…opil You can have your first check by the end of this week…

      Lifetime Opportunity This is what I do—— ONLINE-JOBS-USA

  3. Getting paid every month easily more than $15k just by doing simple job online. Last month i have exactly received $17529 from this online job just by giving this 2 hrs a day online. start earning more cash online just by follow instructions here.. SeeMore here

  4. Anthony Hopkins is one of the actors who could pull off any role with great mastery and absolute perfection. Even if those are most portrayed characters in the history of Cinema. Few actors of great caliber Daniel Day Lewis, Denzel Washington and many others have mastered this art.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.