It's the acting that makes this drama a constant nominee for awards.
“So, if I understand correctly, you’re abandoning me.” Anthony (Anthony Hopkins)
Florian Zeller adapted his play, The Father, for the screen, and with Hopkins as the early-Alzheimer lead, a certain Oscar nomination. Although the disease is well-known by now, having Hopkins and Olivia Coleman playing his daughter guarantees top-flight acting and a story concentrating on character rather than acting.
Father fights all the way to keep from going to a nursing home even though he is already confused about facts and motives. For instance, he believes his caregivers are stealing and his daughter is leaving her husband, Paul (Rufus Sewell), for another man to live in Paris. Neither assumption is right, but Father’s powerful wit is tough to counter.
An idea of his formidable mind is encapsulated in his retort about his daughter: “She’s not very intelligent. She takes it after her mother.” As for his gentle caregiver, Laura (Imogen Poots), he says to her: “Are you a nun?” “No,” he continues, “then why are you speaking to me like I’m retarded?” His observation about nuns and how we can treat those disabled, is spot on, albeit cruel.
And so it goes: elderly in decline, a daughter trying to cope with her father’s recalcitrance, and the specter of death are the powerful forces that impact everyone. Zeller has caught the dilemma almost everyone faces as we scratch our heads about why it all leads to dusty death.
Why couldn’t the end be benign? See the end of this drama to find out.
Director: Florian Zeller
Screenplay: Zeller from his play, Christopher Hampton (Atonement)
Cast: Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs), Olivia Coleman (The Favourite)
Run Time: 1h 37 m