#TIFF20: “THE FATHER”
Review by Mr. Will Wong
While many Films before have tackled the issue of Dementia and father-daughter relations, we have yet to see it treated as delicately and with as much sympathy as this. Florian Zeller co-written and directed THE FATHER left us mesmerized and devastated at once.
Anne (Olivia Colman) is ready to move on with her life and desires to move to Paris. Her father Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) has been able to take care of himself for quite some time but now is battling Dementia. Anne takes him in to live with her and her husband Paul (Rufus Sewell). This causes strain on their marriage and it becomes increasingly-difficult for her to achieve balance in her life as she navigates Anthony‘s unpredictable mental and emotional spirals where he finds himself sometimes being vulnerable, sometimes confused or often downright cruel.
Based on Zeller‘s Play, Le Père, this Film Adaptation co-written by Christopher Hampton has an innovative way of making us see the world through Anthony‘s eyes. The narrative weaves in and out of truths and distortions, blurring our sense of time as Anthony confuses faces and facts, but in the end giving us a complete picture and history through unravelling the present.
This Film showcases some phenomenal performances including those by its Oscar-winning leads, Colman and Hopkins. Indisputably, the Film belongs to Hopkins who is compelling, commanding our attention whether he is full of fervour fighting to keep his home, dancing with joy or tenderly reminiscing about his other daughter Lucy. He is overbearing, yet we cannot resist. Colman exercises great restraint where Anne is constantly being done-to, her father’s Dementia stripping layer upon layer off her until she is raw and tormented, no longer sure what to do. We feel deeply for her and when we aren’t as one with Anthony, we are bearing all the weight she carries.
THE FATHER bravely confronts head-on an uncomfortable discussion surrounding care for the elderly which many of us have or will face at some point in our lives. It does so remarkably with an acute awareness of the taxing toll that comes with it on both sides of the matter.
THE FATHER screens at TIFF ’20 as follows:
Mon, Sep 14
RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place
Tue, Sep 15
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
Streaming in Canada