Awards Season Movie Review: The Father

There have been several successful movies about Alzheimer’s disease over the last decade or so, and many of them have been very good, though director Florian Zeller’s film debut (adapted from his own play) takes a very unique, frightening, and moving look at the toll the disease takes.

The movie opens on Anne (Olivia Colman), as she heads to her father Anthony’s (Anthony Hopkins) apartment to check in on him, after he caused another caretaker to quit due to his aggressive behavior. She insists that he needs to be nicer as she will be moving to Paris with a new lover and won’t be able to look after him any longer, while he claims that the nurse was stealing from him and that he doesn’t need any help anyway. In subsequent scenes, subtle changes and misremembrances cause him to begin to question those around him, and even the very nature of his reality.

Colman is excellent as always, but Hopkins gives an absolute career-best performance here. He moves between sweet joy, belligerence, worry, fear, and heartbreak with ease, making it impossible not to be absolutely devastated by the end of the film. The smart script, adapted by Christopher Hampton, shuffles and remixes events and dialog to help the viewer experience Anthony’s growing confusion. Likewise, the production design and set decoration are ingeniously tweaked throughout, allowing us to experience this disease in a way that only film can. It all adds up to a cinematic experience that one won’t soon forget. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell

Rated PG-13 for some strong language, and thematic material.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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