The Father (12A)

The Father (12A)

Director: Florian Zeller

Runtime: 1hr 37m

Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams and Mark Gatiss

Synopsis: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.


Led by stellar performances, writer-director Florian Zeller’s debut feature film adapts – jointly with Christopher Hampton – his own play, The Father, with its devastatingly empathetic portrayal of dementia. With powerhouse performances from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, Florian Zeller’s uniquely made feature film debut is disorientating and intriguing.

The Father is an inescapably harrowing story about Anthony who is 80, mischievous, independent and living defiantly alone, rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), introduces. But help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits anymore and Anthony’s grip on reality is unravelling.

 Confused and upset, against the backdrop of a warped perspective and his rapid, heart-rending mental decline, Anthony is starting to lose his grip, struggling to navigate the opaque landscape of present and past. Now, as faded memories and glimpses of lucidity trigger sudden mood swings, Anthony’s surroundings, and even time itself become distorted. Why has his younger daughter stopped visiting? Who are the strangers that burst into his London home?

With Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman delivering some of the best work of their careers, The Father is a heart-breaking and inescapably harrowing depiction of dementia. Like Michael Haneke’s Amour (2012), it takes a subtle, insightful and nuanced look at invasive dementia and the dreadful toll it takes on close relatives. Anne must grieve the loss of who her father was – yet he is still there, living often fearful and disorienting conspiracies.

In one frightening and unforgettable scene, Anthony cries out: “I’m losing all my leaves and my branches … I have nowhere to put my head down anymore.”

The Father is a haunting and devastating look at dementia, full of sensitive emotional complexities and truth that deserves to be seen and deals with issues that are relevant and recognisable to many.

A beautiful, evocative score from Ludovico Einaudi enhances the mood of the film.

In cinemas now.

Images courtesy of Lionsgate