[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope: The Father

Journey into mental chaos

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

March 30, 2021 – This Academy Award-nominated film has been unavailable to most critics for over a year. It has been shown in very few theaters, and wasn't available online, either, for a long time. Some critics saw this at the Sundance Film Festival over a year ago, just before the pandemic lockdowns. I finally got to see it last night, and it is very good.

Based on the award-winning French play by Florian Zeller, this faithful adaptation (by Zeller himself) is a most disturbing film for anyone who is the least bit worried about becoming more forgetful, or for somebody who knows someone in that situation. It takes you into the confused mind of a proud, once independent man, Anthony (played by Anthony Hopkins of “The Silence of the Lambs”) who can no longer take care of himself. He is losing track of where he is and even who he is.

By artfully moving forwards and backwards in time, the film causes the viewer to experience the chaos in Anthony's mind as loses track of what is happening in his life. The past and present become hopelessly mixed together. Anthony forgets many things in his confused state, but sometimes, he seems to remember future events, which definitely is confusing.

Anthony's daughter, Anne (played by Olivia Coleman of “The Favourite”) tries in vain to enable her father to stay in his own apartment by hiring companions to care of him. Failing that, she moves him into her own home, but that doesn't work either. She finally has to take more drastic measures.

Anthony, meanwhile, begins to think that his daughter's apartment is his own. He still thinks he is O.K. living on his own. Sometimes he mistakes a nurse for his daughter, and vice versa. He also struggles to properly identify other people he deals with on a daily basis. The stress on Anne and others in Anthony's life builds to a point where it is intolerable. Anthony seems only partially aware of the problems he is causing.

The performances by Hopkins and Coleman are outstanding. These two performances are really what make the film so affecting. The structure of the movie, with its repetition of the same events viewed from different perspectives, does overstay its welcome towards the end, but fortunately, the movie isn't overlong at 97 minutes.

This movie is not quite able to escape the limitations of its stage play heritage. It looks like the whole movie could have been filmed on a single, small sound stage. The interiors do change from time to time, showing the progression of Anthony's mental journey from one building to another, but a bit of fresh air from just one walk in the park doesn't seem too much to ask. This film rates a B.

It is really too bad this film had such a limited distribution during the past year. More people should have seen it, and that goes for films like “Minari,” “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and others, too. The pandemic screwed up theatrical releases, but the already badly fragmented streaming services scene was also affected. At one time, I subscribed to four different streaming services, and still could not see a lot of the films I wanted to see for awards season.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]