We’ve all had that strange feeling that time has lost all chronology, we can’t keep track of whether an event happened two weeks ago or two years ago. It may be the simple mundaneness that our jobs force us into, it may be having to live in quarantine for a year, it may be the growing concern you have for your loved ones who are vulnerable to some disease, or it may be that you’re suffering from such a disease yourself. The Father is that very type of story which tears down the old way people around the world have been living and affirms to them that despite their inability to recollect their own memories, despite how chaotic our times will be, things will still recollect themselves in the end.
Anthony Hopkins plays a frail old man also with the name of Anthony; he spends most of his time sitting around listening to opera because it brings him at peace with how lost he is every day. He has a bit of a perplexing relationship with his daughter, Anne, as sometimes they live together and sometimes they don’t, not even he seems aware of which is which. Director Florian Zeller adapted this from his play of the same name, and shows how much dementia really affects the victim’s closest relatives, which all happens in the offscreen events of the daughter’s life. It’s character building at its absolute finest, because you learn about how she develops based on not what she sees, but what her memory-stricken father remembers of her. You never really leave the flat, but you still can pick up on the changing economy outside, and how it affects his freedom to exist.
One of Anne’s husbands is introduced as if he’s a stranger who broke into his flat, establishing the narrative structure of time constantly changing around him. Yet you surprisingly never lose track of when in time you are because it’s cohesive enough for even those not of the age susceptible to dementia to connect with. What makes it work better is the still shots that linger on the emptiness of the house so that you can pick up everything that once had meaning for him until he forgot why. Those shots help you notice the details of the house, and unconsciously pick up when you are in the chronology of his life because of the way the rooms are redecorated.
This is a great way to introduce the disease to those who think they still have a long way to go before they’re prone to it. Although the introduction may not hook them in right away, because it starts off with a lot of talking; for those who like more exciting films that are popular with the general public, this one will feel just like all these other Oscar-bait films adapted straight from stage plays, where it’s just nonstop talking and little effort to speak the cinematic tongue. It’s also obvious that this was based on a play because of the plain cinematography that clearly was given low priority. Yet if one focused just on the dialogue and not on the lighting, they would quickly recommend this as required viewing for any college course on family relationships, one that had real evident research done behind the science of dementia.
You always sense that Anthony and his daughter were once close but now struggle in their relationship, yet you also sense that things between them will still turn out fine somehow. That theme comes through with the film’s use of the color blue: it’s on Anne’s blouse, the kitchen tile, a grocery bag, and his medication pill to symbolize the hopeless doom that they’re living in. It’s like they once were at peace, but now they’re swimming in their own tears. There is a great fear that Anthony feels when he sees these new men his daughter has known for years, yet he’s somehow meeting for the first time. Realizations like this build up the ending, which should make you cry hard as you wonder whether if he really will be okay after all. Even Anne has a sense of disorder in her marriages, but you still feel hopeful for her. Her arc is there as a representation of just how much citizens need healthcare if they want to exist, and a perfect reflection of how many people across the world lived throughout most of 2020.
Anthony Hopkins truly puts on a perfect performance, giving off the vibe of a father who gave up on all motivation besides merely existing. Even when he’s always losing his watch, he isn’t actually talking about his watch, he’s talking about the time he has lost track of, and you can sense his frantic searching purely by not what he says but how he says it. Also, Olivia Colman better win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress- you can sense a confidence deep behind her eyes that her father will be cured of himself someday despite how uncertain it may be for him in the present moment. Heck, the entire cast gives perfect performances, each one talking with the authority of a thousand demons who sound like they’re out to get Anthony. It affirms to every dad out there that no matter how much they’re worried about their kids, it’s all going to turn out well as long as they did their best, and only a movie with perfect acting such as this one could get that point across.
You’re probably like me, and felt that 2020 is the ultimatum of our world, that things could not possibly get worse, that we might as well let an asteroid strike the earth and end all human life as we know it. But The Father proved the uncanny power of taking such a seemingly little problem in comparison to our existence, and showing how it disrupts the entire existence of the individual and everything surrounding his world. In that same way, it shows how we are no different than someone who can’t remember when his daughter got married or to whom, because we all in different ways hate our present conditions on Earth due to circumstances that are beyond our control. But like this movie has said many times, like a comforting close friend would say, “It’s all going to be okay.”
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!