Starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams, and Ayesha Dharker. Written by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, based on the play by Florian Zeller. Directed by Florian Zeller. Music by Ludovico Einaudi. Set decoration by Cathy Featherstone. Costume design by Anna Robbins.
This is an incredibly hard film to watch. I would rank it up there with Schindler’s List as a movie that everyone should see once, but it isn’t one of those films you just put on to watch. Still, you absolutely should see this film.
The cast is excellent. With a cast like this it’s difficult to not make an exceptional film. Difficult, but not impossible. Anthony Hopkins deserves every nomination and award he wins for this role. He is an emotional roller coaster and no matter where the script takes him he absolutely keeps your attention every second he is supposed to. The fact that Olivia Colman was not nominated for a BAFTA is honestly appalling to me. She not only holds her own against Hopkins, she shows a depth and breadth of emotion that anyone who has ever been a caretaker of a parent will feel to their bones. Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell are wonderful in their limited screen time and Imogen Poots is lovely as the home care nurse (and as someone who has had multiple home care nurses I appreciated her character’s realistic portrayal). From top to bottom the cast of this movie brings it, and the director gives them just enough air to do it, using the tech crew to add subtle but incredibly effective layers.
Speaking of tech the exceptionally subtle but highly effective costume, music, and set crew are the almost unnoticed layers that make this engine purr. When you watch this movie I strongly suggest you pay close attention to all three. The film is not a linear, straight line story and the switches can be jarring. The costumes and sets are your touchstones to know where and when you are, and they do the yeoman’s work to keep you engaged when the scene is taking you on a journey. The music, in particular the discordant tones whenever Hopkins’ Anthony is upset, are absolutely key.
I said in the opening that The Father is a film in the same vein as Schindler’s List in that everyone should see it once. I also think everyone should own it. I own Schindler’s List and I will own The Father when it is released to Blu-Ray. I feel the need to own films that are (or at least should be) cultural touchstones, and as a middle aged man who helped take care of his mother for the last 2 years of her life, and who is watching his sister do the same for their father, this film hit me in a way that few films before it ever have. For those of you who are not yet where I am, one day you likely will be, and seeing both Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the father and Olivia Colman’s portrayal of the daughter both makes me feel seen and understood, while giving me a deeper understanding of what my mother went through and what my father is going through right now. This movie hurt me in the best, most visceral kind of way. It made my soul ache, but in a beautiful and haunting way. Most importantly it made me see the struggles my mother went through in a whole new light, and I can only pray that she never doubted how much we all cared for her even at the most frustrating and difficult times.
5 stars out of 5
Thank you to Allied Global and Sony Pictures Classics for giving us a socially distanced screener!