No film has ever punched me in the stomach as hard as The Father. There were times throughout this film where it felt like I had been punched, not just lightly, but to the point where I was struggling to breathe.
Dementia is no light subject matter in my family. As a teenager, I remember seeing how terrified my family were. We watched my once vibrant grandmother go from being an award-winning lawn bowler to not being able to recognise her own children, all within just a few years. And to be honest, I never thought that I would ever see a film that captures dementia in the way that The Father does.
The eerie thing about The Father is that writer/director Florian Zeller does not tell the story through the eyes of children or grandchildren, he tells the story through the eyes of the dementia patient himself, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins). Early on, Anthony seems happy in his London apartment. His daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), visits and tells him that he has to learn to get along with his new nurse because she has met someone and is moving to Paris. As the film unravels, you start to question what is real and what isn’t.
I have always held Anthony Hopkins in the highest regard. But in The Father, Hopkins takes his acting to a whole new level and it is one of the best performances we have ever seen on-screen. If Hopkins doesn’t walk away with an Oscar for The Father, a cinematic travesty will have occurred.
The Father is smart, emotional, heartbreaking, doesn’t hold back, has one of the best performances of Anthony Hopkins’ career, and is a sheer cinematic masterpiece.