The Father (2021) movie review
The Father is a drama based on the play by Florian Zeller, who also directed the film and, along with Christopher Hampton, adapted the screenplay. The film stars Anthony Hopkins as a man who, after firing his previous caretaker, begins refusing help from his daughter, who seeks to find a way to help care for him. However the situation begins to worsen as he begins to lose his grasp on reality. The film was released this in late February (entering a wide release in stages) after a Sundance Film Festival release early last year. The film, which received four nominations at the Golden Globes, has garnished strong acclaim from both fans and audiences, setting itself up as a strong contender for the upcoming Oscar season.
I don’t know what it is about this Oscar season and plays, but this is the third film based on a play (at least) to compete in this award season. And you know what, bring it on! One Night in Miami (2021) was great, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom boasted two powerhouse performances (and that review is coming soon!), and now we have The Father, which might be the gold standard for plays as far as small-scale adaptations go.
Right off the bat, The Father shows that it is anything but typical. The narrative essentially follows this man losing his grasp on reality in a very real way, and the film reflects that feeling to its core. Everything from the writing to the framing and editing and even casting works towards a single goal: projecting this feeling in a way that the audience can empathize with. In a sense, The Father and I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) have much in common. The both use brilliant filmmaking techniques to reflect the world of the protagonist to the audience. But while both films are certainly original, only The Father manages to truly run with this idea.
How they managed to pull this off I will leave for you to see. But I do want to just praise Florian Zeller’s craft for storytellling! I don’t know how well this works as a play, but it works brilliantly as a film thanks to elements that you can really only find IN film. Cutting, angles, careful changes- things that would theoretically be lost on an audience member sitting half a theater away looking at a stage. I’m not trying to put down plays of course, I just cannot praise this screenplay enough for the ingenuity and creativity it brings to the table as an adaptation.
Of course this film would fall flat without a brilliant performance from Anthony Hopkins. In a year where he wasn’t against another powerhouse performance from a character losing their grip on a situation and also based on a play, I would say he deserves an Oscar! Hopkins subtle commands every scene he is in with his actions and reactions and micro-expressions, constantly keeping the audience feeling the sanity slowly slipping away right alongside him. And while the supporting cast does a great job all around, Olivia Colman is just fantastic as well! Her character feels all too familiar of an adult dealing with the hardships of life but trying to keep that hurt to herself and not letting it bleed over into the lives of those around her.
So while what I am assuming is dementia doesn’t sound like an appealing topic for a film to focus on, I highly recommend The Father regardless of the emotional state it will have you in. No, BECAUSE of that state. Zeller takes what could have been a fairly interesting story with great performances and crafts a wonderfully unique film that uses everything in the filmmakers toolbox to build on and idea and let the audience truly feel that idea for themselves. And it is brought to life through some truly incredible performances as one would expect from two Oscar winners. Now would I watch The Father over and over again having now seen it? Probably not. Just I will say that it is a Must See. 8/10.
So The Father? Did you see it yet? What did you think? And which of the play adaptations this award season did you prefer? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let me know. And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know below what we should talk about next!
-review by Ryan Prince