Movie review / ‘The Father’ (M)

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Anthony Hopkins in “The Father”.

“The Father” (M) **** and a half

COGNITIVE impairment. It is unlikely to kill you, but if you get it, you probably won’t acknowledge that you’ve got it because you don’t remember things from before you developed it. Got all that? Okay, now read on.

It’s doctor-speak for being unable to remember things – not necessarily everything, but in writer (in association with Christopher Hampton) and director Florian Zeller’s film, it’s people’s names, where everyday items have been left, what arrangements for carers have been made, those little things that mean much to a comfortable daily life.

Does that summary put you off putting “The Father” on your must-see movies list? That would be a mistake. So what’s so good about it?

To begin with, it’s virtuoso acting by a small cast, led by Anthony Hopkins for whom Zeller wrote its theatrical origin. As 80-year-old Anthony, he’s going to drive his loving daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) nuts unless something major gets done about caring for him. Those two characters pretty much carry the film’s 97 minutes, with support from Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots and Olivia Williams.

Following what’s going on demands an ability to remember what’s already happened and where passages and characters in the story fit in with each other, presenting a challenge to the viewer’s own brain. Which is another reason for seeing it. 

Movies are a product that live and breathe on getting nominated and winning. To date, “The Father” has been nominated for 135 peer-group and audience awards, of which it has already won 21. By the time you read this, it may very well have won one or more of six categories at the Oscars. Winner or not, its quietly impressive production values adorn a film that touches our hearts and souls, for the best of reasons – its absolute humanity, sympathy and credibility, without demanding a box of tissues. But take a few, just in case.

At Dendy and Palace Electric

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"The Father" (M) **** and a half
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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