The Father Review: No Words To Describe Anthony Hopkins’ Performance

Here's our review for The Father, starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman and directed by Florian Zeller

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The Father Review: No Words To Describe Anthony Hopkins’ Performance

Some actors are so above the material that is provided for their talent that you end up looking only at the actor and not the rest of the film. Anthony Hopkins is one such exceptional actor, so persuasive in his performances he seems to tower above everything else.

Not so in The Father which to our delight, and I am sure Sir Anthony’s delight too, is a sharply-drawn deeply introspective film. It comes from a very successful French stage play with just two main characters. The father who is now entering the life-shattering zone of dementia, and his daughter who is trying hard to cope with her father’s growing sneering demands on her time and attention.

That’s it? Not quite! If only life were that simple!! Florian Zeller takes this simple premise for a domestic drama into a zone of deep psychological exploration where the father’s diminishing mental presence is manifested on screen in the form of various people who appear on screen who are not there, or at least not there at the time when we are looking at them.

There is a smiling(smirking?) man called Paul sitting in Anthony’s drawingroom claiming to be his daughter’s husband whom Anthony has no recollection of. Subsequently many such people walk into the house. They confuse us more than Anthony. One of them, again called Paul(though with a different face) shocks us, and Anthony, by slapping him for being a nuisance in his daughter’s life.

This is a rare precious film about patriarchal missteps done up in stark striking autumnal shades. The protagonist’s mental state is never measured against cinematic conventions. The narrative just flows with Anthony Hopkins’ perception of reality leading us into a kind of psychological labyrinth that is deeply disturbing.

The narrative brings in Anthony’s gallery of illusory associates without punctuations. And yet this is a remarkably fluent and robust film,neatly and deftly edited there is no space for excessive sentimentality.Precise in its mental ambiguities, resolute and strong in the construction of Sir Anthony’s fabled reality, The Father is the kind of jigsaw where the pieces fall together only we stop trying to make sense of it.

While Olivia Coleman as the daughter looks , as usual, a little too baffled by life to make sense of it , Anthony Hokpins’s fatherly act is so authentic in its confusions it will leave you deeply disturbed. His final breakdown in the nursing home in the arms of a kind nurse(Olivia Williams) where he compares himself to a tree with falling leaves is so poetic and Shakespearean . And yet that’s this rapidly-fading patriarch’s reality. Imagine King Lear sobbing for Cordelia who is not dead.Only gone to another country. But he might soon be gone too.And not to another country.

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