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TIFF 2020: “The Father”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

We like horror films, don’t we? We enjoy when we get scared, jump out of our seats, get nervous and worried throughout the film. Isn’t it fun when you look around and hear people screaming in the auditorium the same way you do? But that horror, my most valuable being, is nothing in comparison with a real case scenario. When you come home and your dearest one does not recognize you. When day in and day out you have to tell all over again who you are, and who the person is that can hardly remember you.

Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is an old man living in a big flat in London. He has a daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), who looks after him. He keeps forgetting things and had an argument with his previous caretaker. He barely remembers his daughter. Every time whoever enters his apartment, his mixes them up with other people. He confuses the details, year and time. He keep losing his watch, thinking that it was the woman that looked after him who stole it. In reality, he just misplaced it. The film creates the environment of a person living with dementia, and that’s scarier that any horror film you will ever see.

Just to be cautious, be prepared for dizziness and the bravura performance from Sir Anthony Hopkins who, like a magician, owns and nails every scene. Emotional breakdowns, long speeches, walking from one corner to another, it’s a masterclass from an artist whom the world shall never misspell his name or take him for granted.

When the film starts, we find Anne who informs her dad about her trip to Paris. Now she is ready to move on with a Frenchman in Paris but she wants to ensure her father is taken care of well. The next scene, when Anthony in the kitchen, he hears a noise as if someone just walked into to his apartment. Seconds later, he finds a man (Mark Gatiss), sitting comfortably in the chair, claiming to be Anne’s husband. Confused and shocked, Anthony does not understand what’s going on and is in anticipation of Anne to explain what’s going on. But when Anne returned from the grocery store, he saw a strange woman (Olivia Williams) claiming to be his daughter but he cannot recognize her either.

Based on Florian Zeller’s play, as a first-time filmmaker himself, Zeller recreates an astonishing fear of aging, losing one’s own ground and, at some point, dealing with multiple issues at the same time including anxiety. As you watch Anthony, you will find yourself stuck in his mind while the excellent ensemble cast keep replacing each other, creating a super atmosphere of horror from Anthony’s point of view. As we see him confused, we are confused too. When he is afraid, we are too. When he cries like a little baby, because he wants his Mom to pay him a visit, we cry with him too. Any horror he experience, we go through the same, as we, same as Anthony, experience dementia.

I shall say it’s not an easy film to watch. In fact, it’s aching so much as if someone were punching you every minute. From start to end, it’s a magnificent journey into an old man’s mind who cannot admit that he has a problem, and that he doesn’t remember a thing. The man is as stubborn as one could get, with a brilliant mind but with the lack of memory. As for the film, it’s an award-worthy piece that each organization should hand over. Whether for Hopkins’ performance, editing, direction, the score and screenplay. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a complete winner.

As for the film, be ready to be shaken to the core, sit on the edge of your seat. But before that, fasten your seatbelt, because apart from what I have already mentioned, there is a stunning masterpiece of acting you are about to witness, with the concept itself haunting you for weeks to come because you won’t be able to process it so fast. It is not possible but was never meant to be.

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