THE FATHER – A Review by Cynthia Flores
It’s not too often that a playwright gets to direct the film adaptation of his play with such well-known actors. This being Florian Zeller’s feature film debut, he has set the bar high for himself. The Father is a brilliantly crafted film about getting old. Not only does it show the strain on the grown children and their families as they deal with more and more responsibility for their aging parents. The film allows us to understand the heart-breaking pain and confusion the aged father is going through. We see first-hand how his memory ebbs and flows, mixing times and places as his living situations change around him.
The film opens with Anne (Olivia Colman) dealing with the fallout from Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) chasing off another caregiver. He stubbornly does not see the necessity for one. However, Anne tells him that she needs to make sure he is taken care of because she is leaving London and moving to Paris. Anthony doesn’t understand her wanting to move because “They don’t even speak English there.”
Once this fact is set in place, you need to pay attention to the kitchen and furnishings around Anthony. They will help you keep track of what time frame he is weaving in and out of. Anne will be played by another actress at times, and someone referred to as The Man (Mark Gatiss) will start to make an appearance. All this helps tell Anthony’s story of where he will finally end up living and what he will be dealing with. I warn you to have your tissues ready because the ending will rip your heart out.
The stellar performances from the entire cast are beautifully wrapped in the lush and intimate cinematography of Ben Smithard. The music is often laced with dramatic heavy pieces from classical concerts like Les Pecheurs De Perles, Wd13, Act1: Je Crois Entendre Encore. If you don’t know that one off the top of your head, that’s ok. Think dark and moody, and you get the idea. The music helps push the story along nicely.
The Father is not a lighthearted day at the theater. There are moments of natural humor; however, mostly, it is a heavy and essential piece of film work. Dealing with grown children grieving for their parents before they physically die. Set against the chaos the parents are in. This movie is a loving, poignant reflection on the human condition of aging.
I give The Father a 5-star rating. It’s a must-see this season.
Directed by: Florian Zeller
Written by: Christopher Hampton, from a play by Florian Zeller
Running Time: 97min
Limited Release: March 12th limited theatrical and VOD March 26th
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.