‘The Father’ Is A Triumph (FILM REVIEW)

Rating: A+

It feels pointless trying to determine the best roles and performances of Sir Anthony Hopkins. The prolific actor is second to none, amassing a career that’s as varied as it is accomplished. Even performances where it feels as though he’s phoning it—like his role as Odin in the Thor series, for example—feel elevated where they might otherwise feel silly. How could one begin to assign a ranking to his performances, all of which are effortlessly far and away beyond any of his peers?

Were I to endeavor on that herculean task, however, there can be no doubt that I would include The Father. Using the words “career best” and “Anthony Hopkins” together is futile to the point of near meaninglessness, but that cannot change the fact that his performance in The Father is absolutely a high light of his long and stories career.

The new film from director Florian Zeller (based on his play) is, in addition to being a stunning platform for its star, an emotionally devastating and beautiful film that is absolutely among the year’s best. Already nominated for four Golden Globes (Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Screenplay), it feels all but certain to rack up nominations for the Academy Awards.

Hopkins stars as Anthony, an elderly man suffering from early-late stage dementia. His daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman) is trying her best to care for her father but life circumstances are forcing her to rethink her ability to look after the man. Meanwhile, Anthony’s reality begins slowly crumbling around him in a mess of past, present, and future, bending the shape of his world and leaving him, and Anne, in a helpless predicament.

Zeller’s screenplay, co-written by Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) is a masterwork of emotional writing. As far as depictions of dementia go, The Father is, perhaps, the best ever put to film. Structurally, the film plays with our perceptions of time in ways so subtle that they go almost unnoticed. As such, they managed to capture the terrifying and devastating realities of dementia both for the afflicted and their loved ones.

As great as Hopkins is, Colman equals him in caliber. The two share equal burden; Hopkins must portray life with dementia, while Colman must portray the despair of having no recourse as your loved one slowly fades. Rufus Sewell, meanwhile, playing Anne’s fiancé Paul, rounds out the core trio of the film, giving rise to the abject frustration one feels when dealing with a loved one with this terrible affliction.

It’s a tricky narrative to hold together, but Zeller manages it exceedingly well. By design, The Father leaves audiences confused about when and where they are in the story as Anthony’s world slowly tears apart. Somehow, Zeller keeps the intricate pieces of the narrative together and delivers a powerful and emotional examination of the horrors of losing one’s mind.

By all measures, The Father is near perfection. In turns terrifying and gut wrenching, it’s a beautiful work of art that humanizes the reality of dementia for the people suffering from it, as well as their families. Far be it from me to make the bold declaration of Hopkins’s best role, but this is surely one of them. The Father is, simply, not to be missed.

The Father is now playing in theaters everywhere; it will be available on demand on March 26.

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