This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.
It’s one of my favorite times of year…award season! The Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards presented their top picks in cinema. The Academy Awards air at the end of the month, on April 25.
Although it’s been anything but a typical year for the movie industry, I’m following my usual practice of watching the Best Nominated Films ahead of the Oscars. What a sweet joy to view The Father at Bookhouse Cinema recently, rather than at home on a streaming service. I loved the experience, which felt amazing after viewing only two films at a theater last year.
The darkened theater experience, combined with the incredibly moving story of this film, deeply impacted me. I’m still thinking about this movie.
This is the Best Picture Nominated film, The Father.
The Father Cast
This drama stars Anthony Hopkins, Oliva Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots and Rufus Sewell. The Father, which has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes, is directed by Florian Zeller and carries a PG-13 rating for occasional strong language and adult themes.
The Father earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hopkins, Best Supporting Actress for Colman, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Production Design.
The Father Storyline
Anthony (Hopkins), an 84 year old man, lives alone in his beautiful London flat. His daughter Anne (Colman) works and enjoys her independent life while stopping by frequently to check on her father.
However, the frequency of her visits increases as first one and then another of her father’s caretakers quit. Anthony doesn’t believe he needs assistance. Unconvinced, Anne notes that her father sometimes appears confused or forgetful. Daily, it seems, Anthony misplaces his watch, then accuses one of the caretakers of stealing it.
Anthony oscillates between confusion one moment and belligerence about giving up his flat the next, leading Anne to make the difficult decision to move him into her place.
A Confusing World
Although Anne spends more time with her father, due to his close proximity, Anthony’s perception of reality continues to deteriorate.
He finds it difficult to sort out timelines. To him, Anne appears younger some days and older others. Strangers appear in the flat and just as quickly disappear. One minute Anne tells him she’s moving to Paris, to live with her new boyfriend Paul (Sewell). The next, Anne’s husband James (Gatiss) appears in the front parlor, even though she claims they divorced five years ago.
Realizing she needs help, Anne hires Laura (Poots), to stay with her father during the day. When Anthony meets her, he’s struck by her resemblance to his younger daughter, Lucy (also Poots). It causes him to wonder why Lucy never visits him. He charms Laura, dancing and engaging in witty conversation, leaving Anne smiling and yet confused herself about his condition.
A doctor confirms Anne’s fears. Her father’s episodes of confusion signal the onset of dementia.
For Anthony, who insists his memory is fine, the world becomes increasingly small, confined within the walls of a flat that might be his…or might be Anne’s. And the people living with him…is this his daughter Anne? And his son-in-law? Or is that man his daughter’s boyfriend? And where is his other daughter, Lucy? Doesn’t Laura look just like Lucy?
And where, oh where, is his watch??
My Thoughts on The Father
This film had such a strong effect on me. Perhaps it’s because Greg’s mother died of Alzheimer’s and we lost her, bit by bit, long before her body wore out. Or perhaps it’s because Anthony Hopkins physically reminds me of Greg’s dad, who joined his dear wife almost six years ago. And then, my own father’s death anniversary popped up March 30…gone 11 years now. Or maybe it’s because I’m in my 60s now and cringe every time I suddenly forget a name.
The subject of dementia is a scary one for most people. And you’d expect a film about that devastating illness to be dark and depressing. It is a heavy subject, undoubtedly. However, I’m so grateful for this outstanding film.
My Favorite Best Picture Film So Far
Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman both deserve their Oscar nominations. I felt completely undone by both performances, so much so that I sat quietly in my car after the movie and just felt all the emotions. And the emotions were many.
I laughed at times, delighted by Anthony’s charm, and I teared up, sympathetic to Anne’s pain and fear as her “Little Daddy” slipped away from her. Oft times, my body responded physically to what unfolded on the screen, feeling gut punched and breathless.
The Father is beautiful, edgy, difficult to watch and impossible to look away from. Plus, it is unbelievably clever. This is the most intriguing film I’ve ever seen, about dementia. Anthony’s perspective on his confusing and ever shifting world instills in the viewer empathy and compassion for those in the grips of this horrible disease. The Father not only changes the way I perceive those with memory issues, it changes the way I respond to them.
See The Father. If you’ve ever known someone with dementia, or currently care for a loved one with this disorder, spend 97 minutes with this film. Allow it to upend your views and open your mind and soften your heart. And cry. Weep for those whose realities no longer make sense. Then offer them patience and unconditional love.
Watch The Father at select theaters, or rent on Amazon Prime HERE.
Did you enjoy this review? Check out my review of the Bridgerton series!
Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.