The Father is a really interesting Oscar contender, and not just within this year’s nominees – it would be a stand-out during any year.
Adapting from his own stage play and having co-written the film’s screenplay with Christopher Hampton (The Quiet American, Atonement), director Florian Zeller has made a movie that can be best described as a very personal study of neurodegeneration; as the film’s lead, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), struggles with his dementia. Anthony doesn’t have a true scope of how serious his condition is, but the audience receives a concise understanding rather quickly as we watch Anthony’s past and present overlap. Through incredibly subtle environmental changes and some key casting decisions, all anchored by Hopkins’ transformative performance, Zeller’s film is one of the most empathetic films ever made towards those suffering with a mental illness. The Father’s remarkable perspective almost overshadows other important factors to the film, such as the story about Anthony’s struggle to maintain a dependable level of companionship with his family who appear to be leaving him without much hope.
Zeller tends to hammer a point too heavily by sticking so faithfully to the film’s staggered and purposely inconsistent presentation, but this choice also supports Zeller’s integrity to not compromise his message on why emotional connectivity is so integral to the human spirit.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWyli