Devastating dementia drama

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied
Director: Florian Zeller
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams
Rating: (M) ★★★+


Based on an award-winning play and with a career-best performance from Anthony Hopkins as a dementia sufferer, The Father (Rialto, Reading) is a film that might sound at first like generic Oscar bait, yet it’s such an original and subversive take that any misgivings quickly melt away.

French playwright Florian Zeller makes his directorial debut adapting his own play, and he’s a natural behind the camera, immediately crafting a disorienting scenario that mirrors the main character’s confused state of mind, allowing the viewer to subjectively experience his point of view.

Hopkins’ character, also named Anthony, is a man who would have had a flawed and deeply difficult personality with all his faculties intact, and also a complicated relationship with his two daughters, only one of whom, Anne (Olivia Colman), is still alive, and is mostly responsible for his well-being.

His other daughter died in a car crash, and Anthony sees her again in a new caretaker, Laura (Imogen Poots), who comes to his apartment after his previous carer left due to his abusive behaviour, although it might not really be his apartment after all, which may account for the mysterious man and woman who occasionally show up and who seem to know him all too well.

Unusually for a film of this type, it indulges in techniques that will be familiar to viewers of horror, with the apartment becoming almost a character in itself, a reflection of Anthony’s internal world, all leading to a terrifying yet cathartic final scene.


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