The Father movie poster
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The Father
The Father movie poster

The Father Movie Review

The Father is a riveting drama about a man suffering from Alzheimer’s, even if the movie is still just another movie about a person suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Anthony Hopkins delivers one of the best (or at least better, as he has so many great credits to his name) performances of his career as Anthony, who responds with increased confusion and frustration as the world and people around him seemingly change minute by minute. His daughter is first married, then she isn’t. Then she is someone else entirely. Her husband, or former husband, or future husband, come and go. Something is afoot.

Of course, The Father isn’t a mind-bending thriller but a descent into a man’s deteriorating mind, putting Alzheimer’s on display from the perspective of the inflicted.

Director Florian Zeller, adapting a stage play by one Florian Zeller, offers an absorbing and unique experience, adeptly made and told with an effective leanness and a refusal to get bogged down in the unrelenting emotion that often bogs down movies like this. At a tightly edited 97 minutes, The Father spares no unnecessary moment.

The movie also defies the transfer to the big screen, something I’ve complained about other recent stage adaptations such as One Night in Miami and to a much lesser degree Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The difference is that The Father, while superbly acted by both Hopkins and Olivia Colman, as well as Olivia Williams, Mark Gators, and Rufus Sewell, is driven by its concept, not its dialogue; though confined to the walls of a flat, its shifting realities make for more invigorating cinema. The dialogue, as you would have it, seems more natural, especially with Hopkins so committed to the role.

And yet, there have been many dramas over the last decade or two that depict Alzheimer’s, and while The Father takes a different approach and presents a different perspective, you know where The Father is headed with no reprieve in sight. The movie makes you feel just like any of these other sobering films do, sadness for the inflicted and pity for everyone else who in turn suffer from a conflicted sense of loss, frustration, and helplessness. In short, it’s a subject that has been portrayed adeptly in past films; is there really anything new to explore here? The Father puts it all in a new package, but the answer is not really.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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