REVIEW: ‘The Father’ is a well-made, distressing drama

The ailments that come with aging and the impacts that they can have on a person’s loved ones is shown in harrowing, heartbreaking detail in this film.

“The Father” is a drama revolving around the character Anthony (Anthony Hopkins). At the start of the film, Anthony is visited by his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), who is concerned about how her father should be cared for.

It’s shown early on that Anthony appears to be going through dementia, and as the movie progresses, his condition worsens. As a result, Anne begins considering other options for Anthony’s care. Unfortunately, Anne’s discussion of care options brings more confusion to Anthony.

“The Father” is told from Anthony’s perspective, so nothing stays the same for long. In one scene Anne will be married, in another she’s divorced. One moment she’s dressed in one outfit, and in another she’s wearing something else.

As a result, there are times when “The Father” almost feels like a series of vignettes. Each sequence of scenes is a little different than the last, based on Anthony’s current perception of where he’s living and where Anne is at in her own life.

While each moment feels different, though, there’s a clear linear progression of the film. For example, we see Anthony go from living at his own apartment to Anne’s, and the audience also sees Anne’s growing concern as her father’s health declines.

The execution by director Florian Zeller to make all of this work is fantastic. The movie showcases the confusion someone suffering from dementia must be going through, and captures how it worsens by keeping Anthony’s perceptions changing.

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Courtesy Sony Classics

While this makes the movie a more challenging watch, as things are changing often, though, it’s still entirely watchable because of how the movie continues moving forward with new developments in Anthony’s care.

It’s a well-made, but depressing portrait of what it looks like when someone goes through this issue.

The film is greatly benefited by its two main performers as well. Both Academy Award winners are well on point here. Hopkins is incredible, capturing the sadness and confusion his character is going through in precise detail.

Colman, meanwhile, is powerful in her work, showcasing her character’s dread and hopelessness about the situation. Both performers capture the love their characters have for each other, too, making for a strong family drama.

It can take some time for a viewer to adjust to how “The Father” is playing out, as the situation changes often based on what Anthony can remember. Additionally, the movie, being based on a play, can feel a bit stagey at times.

However, this is still a very strong drama, with both the cast and crew being very deserving of praise. 4.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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