The Father is the debut film for Florian Zeller, Parisian director and playwright (this is based on his own play). He wrote the film with Anthony Hopkins in mind. Hopkins plays a character named Anthony- and when his character gives his birthdate- it is Hopkins’ own. Hopkins won the best actor Academy Award here at age 83 making him the oldest actor to ever win. He also won in 1991 for The Silence of the Lambs.
It is an acting showcase for Hopkins—it is more than that, but it IS that. He gets a “you’re abandoning me” powerful monologue delivered to his daughter Anne played by Olivia Colman. He also gets a scene where he, painfully, regresses to a child near the end of the film. Olivia Williams (two Olivias playing into this at all with the duality here?) plays “the woman”- and part of the narrative formal genius here is the actors and settings slightly fluctuate here and there mimicking the strands of Anthony’s memory.
Impeccable interior design style in the London flats- chess board and pieces, classical music, wine racks— such taste in the interiors- Zeller does use a few Ozu- or Woody Allen Interiors-like tours of the flats and empty rooms.
Peter Francis does the production design and deserves praise- the flats have subtle changes to them throughout- the changing of the pillows, the colors of the backsplash in the kitchen, the cupboards—he and Zeller deserve credit for making film style part of the narrative construct of disorientation- sort of Memento meets That Obscure Object of Desire from Bunuel. There’s repetition throughout in the dialogue and scenes—I’d love to see a Bordwell narrative (ABACAD dissection)
Hopkins’ Anthony is not entirely sympathetic- he’s edgy, paranoid and often cruel. It is a very rich characterization and nuanced performance.
There’s one really weak scene from a formal standpoint where we go into Anne’s mind as she attempts to murder her father—it is the only scene where we get such a glimpse into her headspace.- would be better served to have left that one on the cutting room floor- poor form.
It enters that sub-drama category of aging parents and dementia—Away From Her (2006) and Amour (2012) from Haneke. This even has a large flat serve as a brilliant, surrogate character in the film like Haneke’s film.
Would you say Hopkins gives the best performance you’ve seen so far in 2020?
For me it’s between Hopkins and Gary Oldman. I’m edging more towards Oldman, but it could go either way another viewing of the Father. I was also impressed with John Boyega and Mads Mikkelsen’s work but I don’t think they touch the two powerhouses here.
@Zane- I would have to think about it but I wouldn’t say Hopkins
Is Minari(2020) and Let Them All Talk(2020) in the archives?
@Malith- Let Them All Talk is- the page for it should be coming in a few days. I have yet to see Minari at this point. Hopefully soon.
I’ve heard that movie theatres have been reopening in the US, have you been back yet? And if so, what have you seen?
@Declan- They are open! Exciting- but I have not been yet. I should just go regardless of whether there are any great films out. Maybe it’ll be The Green Knight next month.
In my country,near my house there’s a small art house theatre, I saw Hidden away by Giorgio Diritti there few days ago. It’s an Italian movie. Stars Elio Germano in lead (he won best actor award at Berlin Film Festival for this film) . It was a really good movie.
Fun fact : Elio Germano is one of the few actors to win acting awards at all 3 major festivals Cannes , Berlin and at Venice. Jack Lemmon, Sean Penn, Julianne moore and Juliette Binnoche are other actors to do it.
@M*A*S*H- very interesting on the few actors stat and the film. It wasn’t on my radar. Thanks for sharing.
I saw In the Heights in a theater, and would recommend doing so. It is a fun, exhilarating musical movie. There is not enough dedication to a specific aesthetic to warrant the two upper grades, but I think the dynamic editing, exciting music, and some great cinematic moments are enough to warrant a spot in the Archives. It is also a large-scope movie with many extras, so I believe the big screen may be the best way to experience it.
@Graham – It wasn’t in a theater but I did catch this one. I thought it was fine, and will revisit it at some point, but for now just didn’t find enough to put it in the archives.