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The Father: A Harrowing Drama That Features an Excellent Performance by Anthony Hopkins

January 17, 2021

Grade – A – Director and co-writer Florian Zeller has crafted a wonderful drama that features excellent performances from Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Olivia Colman, Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams.

It’s no mistake or fluke that The Father has a 100% Tomatometer score, and has won 10 awards (more to come) from 48 nominations. It’s a tour-de-force of acting, directing, cinematography, and editing, that blend together to make a wonderful puzzle-box of a film that tells a tragic story. Hopefully, It will be a major player come awards season, and I hope mainstream audiences don’t shy away from this heady film.

The Father focuses on a man’s tragic descent into dementia, and the response he gets from family members who are trying to take care of him. Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), is an 80+ year old man who lives in a posh London flat that is loaded with long hallways that come across as haunting and claustrophobic as he begins to wonder what is real and fake. We learn that his daughter Anne (Olivia Williams) is moving to France, to be with her new boyfriend, and that his other daughter is not around (but she’s clearly the favorite). However, Anne can’t leave before she can find a suitable live-in caretaker who can deal with his paranoia, changing moods, and anger. I won’t spoil what happens next, just know that it features paranoia, a few laughs, and uncomfortable dinners. Also, an added bonus is that the cinematography by Ben Smithard (The Trip, The Damned United, Downton Abbey) is haunting, and it makes the London flat where it all takes place seem warm, cold, haunting and expansive.

The Father features an epic performance from Anthony Hopkins, who bounces between stubborn, childish, menacing and lovable. He’s delivered Oscar-winning and nominated performances in The Silence of the Lambs, Nixon, The Two Popes, The Remains of the Day, and Amistad, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so vulnerable and open. It’s a breathtaking performance that never feels exploitative, and is perfectly calibrated. It helps that he’s surrounded by fantastic actors who are able to go toe-to-toe with a legend. Olivia Williams is excellent as always, and it’s a pleasure watching her spar with Hopkins during their arguments and discussions. Also, it’s neat seeing Imogen Poots (Green Room, Fright Night, The French Exit) appearing in an Oscar-caliber movie, and acting alongside Academy Award winning actors. She’s been crushing it for years, and hopefully her work will get in more of these types of films.

If you are in the mood for a harrowing drama that features A+ performances, I totally recommend The Father.

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