Dementia affects millions of people worldwide and there is nothing worse than watching a loved who taught you to become a fully formed human being slowly turn into a shell of themselves. A person who is now dependent on you in the same manner you were during the formative years of your life. It’s tortuous to watch and even more distressful to live through. You heart breaks in a thousand pieces over the prospect that one day that loved one will look in your eyes and have no recollection of who you are or what they mean to you.
Based on the 2012 play Le Père, Directed and Co-written by Florian Zeller, The Father follows an aging man (Anthony Hopkins) who must deal with his progressing memory loss refusing all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Colman) as he ages. While attempting to make sense of his rapidly changing reality, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his mind and even the core of his reality.
Anthony Hopkins, who recently became the oldest Best Actor for the 2021 Academy Awards, is literally giving the performance of a lifetime. Without putting too much on it, Hopkins encapsulates the confusion, the childlike innocence, frustration and overall declining intellect that comes with this soul snatching disease. Yet, at the same time those moments that peek out where he flirts with the incoming caretaker are so very spot on. It is those moments where the person you love resurfaces for just a moment only to retreat back in the madness that comes along with Alzheimer’s.
On the flip side, Olivia Colman’s quitely, eloquent portrayal of Anne’s confliction as she continues to take care of Dad on her own or making that painful decision to place him in a nursing home will bring you to tears. You empathize with her mental torture of being a daughter who wants the best and wants to make the right decision – not fully realizing what the right thing is. What a journey both actors embark upon that is by no means on the light and fluffy side.
Zeller’s focus on a single door illustrating decades of time, memories, moments and people are simple, yet ingenious. For anyone currently living the life of being a caretaker, The Father will have you all up in your feelings while watching this family navigate loss and love. Yet, you leave with the understanding that sometimes love simply isn’t enough.