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Film Reviews
The Father
| Sunday, 03.21.2021, 03:37 AM |   (1305 views)

In The Father, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) and Anne (Olivia Colman) are father and daughter who, for the first half-hour of this heartbreaking film, appear to be engaged in a game of cat and mouse.  Anthony comes right out and accuses Anne of “cooking something up” to try to put him out of his flat and into a home for the infirm, where he is certain he does not belong.  He swears he will outlive both of his daughters and remain in his flat until he is dead.  He knows exactly what is going on. 

To Anthony, as long as he can imbibe in cocktails, tapdance and flirt with visiting strangers, he’s in full control of his faculties. 

The external changes are subtle, at first.  Artwork and furniture seem to rearrange themselves. The kitchen is magically remodeled from scene to scene.  But when people begin appearing and disappearing in Anthony’s flat, when Anne’s appearance seems to change drastically from moment to moment, we understand that what appears to be something externally sinister is really a symptom of the internal deterioration of Anthony’s mind.

In a brilliant performance, Hopkins allows us to watch the slow, relentless siphoning of the intellect that Alzheimer’s and dementia inflict upon a once vibrant human being.  Colman tries many times to cushion the onslaught, but can really do little but watch as her father slips away.  There is no turning back the tide.  There is no cure.  Science and medicine have allowed our bodies to outlive their expiration dates but the same cannot be said of our cognitive abilities.  We just don’t know what causes the disease or how to reverse its course. 

Florian Zeller, Director of The Father, based the film on his own play, La Pere.  In a fashion similar to a play, much of the film takes place in just a few rooms. 

As his disease progresses, Anthony is enraged at Anne for many things; at times he threatens others with violence.  Anne tells her father he is simply “confused”, and until others point it out to her, takes a while to accept the seriousness of his medical issue.  Anne is also trying to balance accommodating her father’s need for independence with her desire to live her own life.  They both know that time is slipping through their hands. 

In fact, time and timelines play a huge part in The Father.  Anthony’s misplaced wristwatch is the jumping-off point for Anne’s current dilemma.  Anthony obsesses over another character’s wristwatch.  Scenes are repeated within the film, with different actors repeating identical lines. 

In the end, living with a parent afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia means saying goodbye to them while they’re still alive.  The ones left behind try to freeze time in the before, because the after is so emotionally and physically draining.

The Father has received a multitude of Oscar nominations.  Currently in release in theaters that have finally opened in 2021, The Father will also be available on a variety of PVOD on March 26th.  

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor for In Focus Magazine.  She's been a News Editor at NBC affiliate WESH2 in Orlando for more than a decade. She was formerly with WKMG6 for 14 years as a News Editor. She spent nine years in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite and MTV Networks. She also worked as an on-air host for local cable access programs. Lisa has covered the Florida Film Festival for the past 29 years as well as the World Peace Film Festival. She was a columnist for Lady Freethinker, and  She has been a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper and now for In Focus Magazine. 

Lisa Blanck can be reached at: [email protected]

Lisa Blanck

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