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THE FATHER gets 7/10 The bonds of family


Directed by Florian Zeller

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots

7/10

The woes of ageing are explored to a fairly gruelling manner in The Father, a film about an old man living alone in his apartment as his mind starts to succumb to decay. There’s something very straight-forward about The Father, which despite keeping the topic narrow, also accentuates the power of the performances.

Dealing with memory loss that is becoming more aggressive, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) keeps to himself in his apartment home, being taken care of by his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), who’s trying to sort out for him his new carer (Imogen Poots). Although Anthony shares hostility towards this new woman in his abode, we see from his perspective how his home and these people are changing, always making him frustratingly question and double-check everything he sees and hears.

Time, space, and memory are distorted to give the horrifying sensation of short-term memory loss, as it seems this spacious apartment starts to feel more tightly confined. The tricks this film employs work well, yet subtly and never too clever, effectively conveying the loosening grip Anthony has on reality.

The direct nature of this film makes it a vehicle for the astonishing acting. Both Hopkins and Colman have quite a range of swinging emotions to deal with, especially Hopkins who navigates his confusion and frustration with a forced self-assuredness.

With such a strong focus on someone slipping away into death, The Father is certainly comparable to Amour, reaching similar emotional heights. Though whereas Amour dealt with the illness from another’s perspective, The Father is dealing with it right from the victim’s perspective, seeing how their world becomes slightly more warped as time (seems to) go on.

Although not quite reaching the artistic heights as Amour, The Father is a simple portrayal of memory loss in old age, but uses this simplicity to be clear about a disease that causes such confusion. Outstanding performances from the two leads carry this film, and although Colman isn’t quite in the film enough to really stand out, it’s Hopkins who gives the kind of swansong performance that’ll be considered one of his best.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

The Father plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, December 14 to Sunday, December 20. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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