You feel your heart shattered when the dramatic and absolutely realistic film ends. “The Father” (2020), directed by the French Florian Zeller. Its 97 minutes are a very painful journey through the loss of lucidity and memory. It is a fall towards the most terrible loneliness: that of not knowing who you are.
The film was nominated for six Oscars, of which it won those for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. You have to start by recognizing that “The Father” has the two protagonists at an impressive acting level. Anthony Hopkins Y Olivia ColmanAs father and daughter, they powerfully convey a range of emotions that will shake any viewer.
The growing bewilderment and anguish of the aging father (and with senile dementia) are perfectly condensed and expressed by Hopkins, one of the best actors in the world for the last four decades and winner of many major awards in the film industry. While Olivia Colman (Anne), winner of the Oscar for Best Actress two years ago for “The Favorite”, now mimics us with her sadness and helplessness as a daughter who loves her father, but she cannot prevent senile dementia from making her perception of the reality of your parent. And that, in addition, said daily deterioration of his faculties makes his daily life, family life, more tense and unmanageable.
In a very successful way, director Zeller manages to capture the feeling of confinement, of a dead end, that threatens the father all the time. The entire film takes place in closed spaces, be it the apartment or the nursing home. This decision by Zeller makes the viewer feel just as trapped and uncomfortable as the elderly father. Not only in these small physical spaces but also in the mental labyrinths that surround him, mix his memories with the present and do not grant him any moment of tranquility.
For its part, the script (which has been adapted from the multi-award-winning homonymous play from Zeller himself) has many shocking moments. For example, when the proud old Anthony pretends to be nice to Nurse Laura (who is going to take care of him at Anne’s apartment) for a few moments and then ends up behaving rudely, as long as she leaves, since he thinks he does not need to nobody’s cares. And another crucial moment is when Anthony himself does not know who he is and asks the nursing home nurse, through tears, to be with his mother, as if he were a small child again. It is a moving return to the origin, to early childhood, where human beings feel protected and cared for, where there is no fear of losing identity or memory.
For all the aforementioned (although they are not its only merits), “The Father” Not only is it a masterclass in acting by Hopkins and Colman, but it also expresses deep human value, because it is a cinematographic document on senile dementia, which can sensitize millions of people about this public health problem (on which even the World Health Organization has ruled). Because many older men and women live those labyrinths with no way out of the mind, those whirlwinds of cognitive chaos and, happily, feature films like this make us more respectful and supportive of those who suffer from them. In many families around the world there is an Anthony to be cared for with patience and love.
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