There have been many films that have dealt with dementia from "Away From Her" to "Amour" to "Still Alice," but we've never seen a movie handle the subject quite like "The Father."
Anchored by award worthy work from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, this is a touching and deeply emotional film that not only shows the toll the disease can take on loved ones - but manages to provide insight from the patient's point of view in a way that is absolutely fascinating.
"The Father" is based on a play by Florian Zeller (making his directorial debut) and tells the story of Anthony (Hopkins) an aging patriarch who still believes he can function alone in his London flat.
His daughter Anne (Colman) is not as certain as Anthony. She has been there for him, but is about to move away. Anne wants to make sure her father is cared for and tries to convince him to allow her to hire an assistant to help him.
As Anthony wrestles with allowing the help, he grows increasingly angry with Anne's please while also growing frustrated with his struggles to determine what is real and what is just his imagination.
Zeller does a very good job behind the camera, creating a murky timeline that leaves the audience just as disoriented as Anthony. People come in and out of the apartment, but are these people real? Are they just figments of Anthony's imagination? This is a film that provides an understanding of dementia by showing the audience an almost first person account.
The murkiness requires a cast that is basically asked to be multiple characters - depending on which version of the story we get. Colman captures the confusion and frustration of Anne quite well, in a role that may not be as flashy as her Oscar winning work in "The Favourite" but is just as effective.
But it is Hopkins performance that really brings it all together. He captures Anthony in a way that feels real, authentic and quite touching. This is a man who has always been in control of his world, but the realization has set in that has lost that control.
Hopkins makes Anthony's journey spellbinding and makes "The Father" a film that is one of the best films of this awards season.