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Father, The  (DVD)


Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots, Mark Gatiss

Director: Florian Zeller

Hopkins' towering, yet subtly poignant, Oscar-winning performance completely dominates this unflinching examination of old age dementia and its heart-rending effects. He's Anthony, an 82-year-old former engineer. And, right from the beginning of the film, we're often as confused as he is, concerning what is real, what is in his imagination - what is past and what, if anything, is present.

Pottering about in his flat, with operatic arias filling his headphones, and having sacked his latest carer, he receives a visit from his daughter (Colman), who tells him she's moving to France with a new love. In another scene, she's not Paris-bound, then she is again. When Anthony sees her again, she's changed into Williams (the two Olivias are not completely unalike, either).

Is Williams really a carer, or is that Laura (Poots), perhaps the latest, who reminds Anthony of his daughter, whom he 'never sees' (we infer she may be dead)? Is Anthony now in his daughter's flat, along with her husband Paul, who changes from Gatiss to Sewell, and may be in the past if the daughter's trip to Paris with a new man is anything to judge by. As you can see, the film does a brilliant job of showing us events (or non-events) as they appear to a mind befuddled by increasing dementia.

If that sometimes bewilders the viewer as well as the sufferer, that is the movie's intention. And, at the end, as Hopkins' performance rises to an impressive and distressing climax, we see where Anthony is actually living.

These final scenes will worry the hell out of anyone approaching their latter years. And, however penetrating the film, I'm not sure that's entirely a good thing.

David Quinlan

UK/France 2020. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by Panalux.
93 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 01 Sep 2021