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The Father – 2020 Zeller
- 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.
- Recommend / Highly Recommend border