The Father Parent Guide
Told from the perspective of a senior with dementia, this is a brilliant and deeply disturbing film.
Parent Movie Review
There is one question every viewer over the age of 50 is going to ask themselves when they watch The Father: “Is this my future?” Whether you’re most frightened of winding up as Anne (Olivia Colman) or her father, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), will depend on the stage of life you’re in.
Anne is a dutiful, middle-aged daughter, devoted to the care of her father. Anthony is a retired engineer suffering from dementia. When he dismisses his latest caregiver in a rage, Anne tells him that they must find another carer to look after him because she is moving to Paris. Or is she?
The Father is unique amongst movies about dementia in that it is filmed entirely from Anthony’s perspective. Days are caught in time loops, events repeat themselves, strange people randomly appear in the flat, furniture and artwork move around, and Anne’s plans regarding Paris seem to shift. Anthony is being gaslit by his own mind and this movie is a front row seat to the full horror of the experience.
Director Floria Zeller has created a masterpiece of a film. It’s terrifying to watch and every element of the film drives home the nightmare of Anthony’s crumbling sense of reality. The soundtrack is unsettling with enough opera to reinforce the sense of incomprehensible tragedy. The same set, painted different colors, is used for every scene – as Anthony’s apartment, Anne’s apartment, the doctor’s office, the care home – which only deepens the sense of disorientation. Like Anthony, we can never be sure of exactly where we are or what’s real.
As good as the production values are, the real glory of The Father is the cast. Anthony Hopkins, as expected, delivers a stellar performance. Few actors can overshadow him, but Olivia Colman pulls it off. As Anthony rages and laughs and weeps, Anne watches and soothes. She, too, is filled with pain and grief and anger, but her feelings must be contained, muted by her need to calm her father. In Olivia Colman’s highly expressive yet restrained performance, those emotions come alive in a drooping eye, a nod of her head, a tick of a shoulder. She gives a master class in acting here. Throw in secondary roles featuring Rufus Sewell, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, and Olivia Williams and there’s practically a superfluity of talent in this film.
Aside from a handful of profanities and minor alcohol consumption, this production contains no negative content, but that doesn’t mean it’s family friendly. This film will bore teens. As for adults, The Father could well be the scariest film of the year. Forget horror movies, forget ghosts, zombies, or aliens – none of them are as frightening as the terrors of a mind that can’t recognize reality or engage with the world around it.Directed by Florian Zeller. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, and Rufus Sewell. Running time: 97 minutes. Theatrical release February 26, 2021. Updated March 12, 2021
Watch the trailer for The Father
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Father rated PG-13? The Father is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language, and thematic material.
Violence: There are mentions of a man threatening a woman. There is an imaginary scene of a person murdering another. An elderly man is slapped on the face several times in what is likely a hallucination.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: There are two sexual expletives and a handful of scatological curses and crude anatomical terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol at home.
Page last updated March 12, 2021
The Father Parents' Guide
How does your family care for aging relatives? Is there a point at which the demands are too great for care at home? What supports are available for the elderly and their caregivers in your community? At what point do you think seniors require institutional care? Is good quality residential care available in your area?
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Dementia may be a depressing topic but it is film fodder. Supernova follows a same sex couple who decide to have a last great vacation after one of them begins a slide into dementia. When her father’s cognitive issues intensify, director Kirsten Johnson helps him face their feelings about death by staging various fatal scenarios in the documentary Dick Johnson Is Dead. A linguist struggles to hold onto her identity and sense of self when she develops early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in Still Alice. In the profanity-laced film, Falling, an angry farmer with dementia alienates the adult children who are trying to help him.