Shadow

A man with worsening dementia is taken in by his daughter in . Anthony () is an elderly man suffering from the effects of dementia, who moves in with his daughter Anne () after he has a falling out with his live-in nurse. However, the move is not easy on Anthony, who still believes that he is living in his own flat and his concept of time and the reality of the world around him becomes seriously askew.

The Father is a film directed and co-written by French filmmaker Florian Zeller, based on his 2014 play of the same name. The film stars Anthony Hopkins as Anthony, a man in his 80s who steadfastly believes that he is able to care for himself, even though that turns out to be anything but the case. Still believing himself to be living in his own flat, Anthony has unbeknownst moved in with his daughter Anne and her increasingly impatient husband Paul (). Anne desperately tries everything to get her father to adjust, which includes hiring a new nurse Laura (), with whom Anthony seemingly quickly develops a connection.

Thanks greatly to the suburb editing by Yorgos Lamprinos, watching The Father is probably the closest one can come to experiencing the confusion of someone with Alzheimer's/dementia without actually having it. Taking place predominantly in a single apartment set, characters seemingly appear and disappear and in at least one case the scene appears to be repeating itself. The Father also visualizes the lack of recognition of people with dementia by having and , credited simply as The Man and The Woman, appear at various points as alternate versions of the supporting characters and you are left questioning until literally the final scene who Gatiss and Williams are truly playing.

The plot of The Father is almost entirely dependent on the performance by Anthony Hopkins since the entire film is presented from the perspective of his character. From the opening scene trying to convince Anne that his nurse stole his watch to the tearful final scene, Hopkins covers a wide spectrum with his performance. In many ways, Oliva Colman's performance merely reactive to Hopkins, even though she still adds her own nuance to a character that deeply loves her father, yet is greatly suffering inside. Even though she only appears in the film for a handful of scenes, I also enjoyed Imogen Poots as Anthony's “cool nurse” Laura, whose quick connection with Anthony hides a sad undertone.

Overall, The Father ends up being one of the most well-done cinematic depictions of what it's like to slowly lose your mind to dementia.

The Father is now available on Premium VOD


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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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