The Father is on TV tonight – Nothing is as it seems: the shadow of dementia for an Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins
A frightened man. That he no longer understands what is happening around him. That he is afraid. And just a few flashes of lucidity. The Father – Nothing is as it seems (2020) by Floria Zeller it’s a powerful film. And that does not leave you indifferent. It’s the film we suggest you watch tonight on TV on Sky Cinema Drama (channel 308) at 9pm. With a superb Anthony Hopkins it’s a Olivia Colman always up to par. And very far from the queen of The Crown 3.
Anthony is 80 years old. He is mischievous. He lives in defiance of loneliness and rejecting the carers that his daughter Anne presents to him. Encouraging its presence in vain. However, even for Anne help is becoming a necessity: she can no longer make daily visits and Anthony’s grip on reality is crumbling.
We viewers experience what Anthony sees and hears. The ebb and flow of his memory. We ask ourselves, with him, how much of his identity and his past can he cling to. But we also experience Anne’s anguish. Forced to mourn the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes in front of her. What is true and what is the fruit of the protagonist’s confused mind while he spends his days at home? The question we ask ourselves throughout the film.
Olivia Colman in a scene from The Father (2020).
Writer and director Florian Zeller succeeds in a far from easy feat. He takes us inside the mind of Anthony’s sick character. Allowing us to experience his confusion as if it were our own. But it also offers us the point of view of those who take care of him and his loved ones. Of those who try to appease his volatile temper and organize his confused memories of him. We never know what is true – nor who is true, for that matter. Because characters come and go. And they take on various names and identities, depending on how Anthony recognizes them. Everything is fleeting, yet each specific moment feels urgent and real.
And then there are two extraordinary interpretations. That of Anthony Hopkins, among the best of his career. And awarded with an Oscar for Best Actor (which came as a bit of a surprise: the favorite was the recently deceased Chadwick Boseman for But Rainey’s Black Bottom). His confusion of past and present is brilliantly rendered. As well as the transition from one emotion to another: a real acting lesson.
To stand up to him, however, there is another great actress. Olivia Colman lives up to her stage partner. Because she too goes up and down on the emotional roller coaster that a disease like senile dementia entails. She smiles through her tears, just like us as we watch her helplessly struggle.
Florian Zeller with the Oscar won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Photo Ansa
Since that night of the Oscars, director Florian Zeller has emerged with a statuette for Best Adapted Screenplay. French born in 1979, this writer, playwright and director has finally received the popular success he deserves. The Father – Nothing is as it seems is the film adaptation of his homonymous play. Which is part of the trilogy written between 2010 and 2018: La Mère, Le Père, Le fils.
And from this last text, in 2022, he made the film The son. Presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival 2022. And which protagonists Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby. And again Anthony Hopkins in a cameo.