“Have you ever walked alongside a shoreline, solely to have your footprints washed away?” legendary basketball coach Pat Summit as soon as requested, describing her wrestle with Alzheimer’s. “The waves erase the marks we go away behind, all of the sandcastles.”
In The Father, it is an octogenarian named Anthony whose sandcastles are getting washed away. The character shares the identify and birthdate of the actor portraying him (Anthony Hopkins), however the movie isn’t biographical.
Instead, writer-director Florian Zeller based mostly the drama on his 2012 Molière Award-winning play, Le Père, which tells the straightforward story of an aged man whose psychological colleges are deteriorating and who should face tough choices associated to his long-term care. Nevertheless, in the palms of Hopkins, the protagonist feels starkly actual, as should you’re witnessing one of many cinema’s biggest actors careen into dementia.
The cinema is filled with research on dementia, together with latest standouts Still Alice, The Savages and Away From Her. But few movies take a subjective take a look at the subject, placing the viewers dizzyingly contained in the thoughts of the character. The Father is not essentially the primary to do it, however it may be the most effective.
Indeed, Zeller’s movie dives so deeply into Anthony that it is usually the opposite characters (carried out splendidly by Olivia Colman, Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots, Mark Gatiss and Olivia Williams) who appear loopy.
Surely Anthony is lucid and it is the world round him that’s collapsing into lunacy, we posit. And but simply as we predict we have solved Zeller’s brainteaser, one other twist arises, throwing us — together with Anthony — into an Escher-like existence of confusion and implausibility.
It quantities to a jigsaw puzzle that, when solved, reveals the most effective movie of 2020.
Credit should be shared with co-writer Christopher Hampton, composer Ludovico Einaudi, cinematographer Ben Smithard, editor Yorgos Lamprinos and particularly manufacturing designer Peter Francis, who — together with artwork administrators Amanda Dazely and Astrid Sieben — create an atmosphere simply as surreal as any discovered in Inception or Doctor Strange. Anthony’s world won’t have the visible punch of the aforementioned movies, however it ranks proper up there with The Tenant and Rosemary’s Baby on the creepy-apartment scale.
This will not be Hopkins’ final movie; the 83-year-old is not even slowing down. But The Father, much more so than 2019’s The Two Popes, feels like a career capstone. I simply hope he can accumulate one other Oscar to go together with his award for The Silence of the Lambs. But, simply as his superior performance in The Remains of the Day misplaced to Tom Hanks’ zeitgeist-capturing flip in Philadelphia in 1994, the Academy would possibly move over his function in The Father to as a substitute posthumously honor Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, as did the Hollywood Foreign Press.
Awards reveals are, in spite of everything, extra targeted on sending political and cultural messages than recognizing creative achievement. And that is not at all times dangerous, as Hanks’ and Boseman’s performances have been — and nonetheless are — socially obligatory. But a performance of the stature of Hopkins’ in The Father would not come alongside usually. Let’s cherish it whereas we are able to.
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