THE FATHER: The labyrinth of mind and memory

THE FATHER

Nominated for an Oscar as Best Movie, with Anthony Hopkins delivering a powerful performance, “The Father,” directed by Florian Zeller, who adapted it from his own play, is simply a masterpiece. Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is an 80-year-old who—like many people at that age when memories and perceptions start to crumble—refuses to accept that he can no longer be living alone.

Anne (Olivia Colman) and her father Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) deliver a great performance in “The Father” directed by Florian Zeller

However, this is not the more common situation of the old man trying to avoid being in a nursing home and, in this case, his daughter battling with the contradictory feelings that decision entails. The ingenious way in which Zeller presents the story puts the spectator in Anthony’s place. One shares his confusion and the anxieties about each of the unexpected events that come upon him. His daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) has come to tell him that Laura, another caregiver, will come to help him. He couldn’t stand a previous one who he thought was stealing from him. She also tells him that she will move to Paris with her partner. But Anthony’s memory is playing some tricks on him, and on us, as viewers: a younger Anne appears with her husband, and Anthony is living in their home. Then, when Laura (Imogen Poots), the new caregiver, is introduced to Anthony, he shows all the charm of a young man, causing Anne a surprise and embarrassment.

Through the eyes and the conflicted memories of Anthony, we see the various stages of his own mental decline and the attitudes toward the elderly reflected in the views of his daughter’s partners. “The Father” is a candid and powerful exploration into the conflicts and anxieties when the mind enters a labyrinth from which it will not come out. Hopkins, certainly one of the greatest actors at this time, delivers an unforgettable performance, taking the audience to moments of deep reflection about what to do when one gets into that moment of our lives.  For her part, Olivia Colman also brings us a daughter painstakingly aware of her predicament, caught between love for the father—she also being his only surviving child—and the legitimate desire to go ahead with her own life as well.

“The Father,” a UK-France co-production, is highly recommended to anyone who likes good cinema where plot, story, narrative, ambience, and acting make a perfect combination.  The story should also stimulate a good conversation—questions such as ageing and what to do if the mind starts a slow but progressive deterioration.

Released in some movie theatres and available on VOD. Duration: 97 min

By: Sergio Martinez – info@mtltimes.ca

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