Starring: Olivia Colman, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Gatiss
Director: Floria Zeller
Running Time: 97 mins
The Father is a British film about an elderly man dealing with worsening memory loss, as his adult daughter does her best to care for him.
Whether we’ve experienced it first hand or not, we all understand the trials of memory loss at an older age, albeit never quite enough to fully sympathise with the challenges it poses.
The Father, with excellent performances, brilliant writing and ingenious direction, using simple cinematic devices to portray the experience of memory loss in a powerfully vivid way, making the film a deeply, deeply engrossing watch from start to finish.
It’s easy enough to tell a story about a daughter coping with her ageing father’s memory loss, but it’s so much more difficult to try and tell that same story from the other perspective, given that few people who’ve experienced serious memory loss first hand don’t go on to make films about their experiences.
Director Florian Zeller, however, manages to detail the disorienting and often frightening nature of memory loss in such a vivid and effective way that you really come to understand just what a difficult experience it can be. The entire film plays out from the perspective of Anthony Hopkins’ character, with whom you fully sympathise in his struggles to stay on top of the world around him.
The film is in no way patronising, but a genuinely challenging watch that gives you the sensation of serious memory loss without ever being gratuitous or completely out-of-left-field. With a few simple tricks that take away the familiar narrative devices that you find comfort in, you’re put into a disorienting spin that makes you entirely understand what Hopkins’ character is going through.
From the first moment where things don’t seem to be quite as you remembered them, The Father shows itself as true experiential cinema, which tells a captivating emotional and dramatic story as well as putting you right into the shoes of its characters in a way that few other films are able to do.
Complete with enthralling performances from Hopkins, Olivia Colman and more, the film is fully captivating from start to finish, but it’s without doubt Florian Zeller’s ingenious writing and direction that makes the film work so well, taking what could have been a more mellow family drama and turning it into a masterpiece of mind-bending and insightful drama.
Though simple on the surface, there are so many layers to The Father, a film that continues to surprise you with every twist and turn, all of which fit in perfectly with the movie’s main message of giving you the chance to experience what it really feels like to experience debilitating memory loss.
It’s a challenging watch, but a film really unlike any other. Complete with stunning performances, brilliant writing and above all enthralling and ingenious directing, The Father is an exhilarating, mind-bending and deeply insightful piece of experiential cinema, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.5 overall.