• James Rutherford

'The Father': An Extraordinarily Compelling First-Hand Depiction of Dementia and Senility


Movie poster for the film The Father (2020) starring Anthony Hopkins

The Father (2020) is an extraordinarily compelling depiction of dementia, told through the eyes of an 80-year-old resident of London named Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) as he struggles to discern the basic elements of his day-to-day existence.


A complex, often critical and occasionally charming gentleman, Anthony is cared for by his doting adult daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), who visits his London flat daily to tend to his needs. Anthony steadfastly denies that he requires a caretaker, however, despite his increasing bouts of bewilderment and confusion—having already driven off a number of nurses incapable of bearing his irrational mood swings. Anne grapples with her father’s memory loss and inconsistencies while making her own plans to relocate to Paris, and alternates between entertaining a new caregiver named Laura (Imogen Poots), and accepting the possibility of committing him to an assisted care facility.


In a brilliant turn, writer/director Florian Zeller and co-writer Christopher Hampton have fashioned the storyline (based on Hampton's 2012 play Le Père) from Anthony’s own fractured perspective, creating an immersive and often disquieting experience. As identities and locations shift haphazardly—and time loops back upon itself—Anthony is continually befuddled by the fundamentals of his ever-shifting reality. Highlighted by Hopkins’ utterly phenomenal, Academy Award-winning portrayal of a man lost adrift within his own splintered consciousness, it’s a deeply empathetic and stunningly inventive tale of degeneration, anguish and eternal devotion.

 

Watch the trailer: