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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Father (M) - 97 minutes

Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is an elderly man – formerly an engineer – living in his daughter Anne’s (Olivia Colman) London apartment.

Only his way of looking at his life is entirely different to hers.

Anthony believes that with a little care and attention from Anne, he is more than capable of looking after himself.

Patient and understanding, Anne recognises that her father’s health is slipping. His mind is not what it used to be. In fact, far from it.

One minute he can be self-assured, funny and engaging and the next accusatory, vitriolic, belligerent and plain nasty.

She wants to make sure he is looked after as she is about to move to the next chapter of her life.

Divorced for more than five years, that involves a move to Paris to be with the new man she loves.

She still intends to visit her father when she can, but it will be a far cry from being at his beck and call, as she is now.

For his part, Anthony is growing increasingly confused and needs ‘round the clock attention.

He keeps referring to his younger daughter (seemingly oblivious to the fact that she died in a car accident), has “visions” of men in Anne’s life, is constantly “losing” his watch and says some particularly hurtful things to Anne.

One thing he vehemently rails against is the assistance of a carer.

Truth be told, he’s already scared off a number of them, but Anne presses on with yet another interview.

This time she seems to have hit the jackpot, but it is all an illusion.

The Father is a heart-wrenching story about dementia.

It has been thoughtfully composed by director and co-writer Florian Zeller (with Christopher Hampton) from his own play.

The Father shows a deep-seated understanding of the subject matter, which is looked at from various perspectives.

I speak of the father, his daughter, his daughter’s partners (real or imagined), his carer and his nurse.

It deals with harsh reality. There’s no sugar coating.

A telling script is but one part of the story.

Anthony Hopkins is magnificent in portraying a man who has lost touch with reality.

He readily channels different sides of Anthony’s character, in a rich and deeply affecting showing.

So, too, Olivia Colman in inhabiting the role of the long-suffering daughter who wants only the best for her dad.

The secondary players also perform admirably, fleshing out the new, uncomfortable world order for Anthony.

He is presented as an opera lover and the telling score by composer Ludovico Einaudi reflects that.

While some will find The Father a hard watch (it is distressing), it is an important slice of life piece that cries out to be seen.

Rated M, The Father scores an 8½ out of 10.


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