If you look at my top ten films there’s probably a theme there, a number of them are action-based and fast-paced, a good example being James Cameron’s “Aliens” which I absolutely love on pretty much every level. So how did I stumble on and then decide to watch “The Father”, given even the name is pretty boring?
It was a flow of events. First off I had a train journey and needed a platform which allowed me to download, rather than simply stream film. This meant Netflix was out, along with Sky TV. Both are excellent services, but I need the net for them, and frankly, the Avanti West Coast train line can’t handle it, nor can the patchy mobile service on the way to London.
This left Amazon Prime. I scooted down Prime, used IMDB to get a feel for ratings and The Father got 8.3 which I thought was pretty high. I wasn’t even going to watch it. I actually decided to watch “Compliance”, but at the start of the film, the warnings of sex and violence got me thinking about the two snowflakes sitting behind me in the carriage. Given their general demeanour, I felt they might be the sort to get offended (at everything) so switched to a safe option. Maybe I was wrong, but sometimes you’ve got to go on your gut.
The Father’s synopsis isn’t very accurate. Or at least how I interpreted it. Looking at it again maybe I was wrong. If you don’t want to know anymore then look away now. But The Father is basically about Dementia and it takes the viewer on a very subtle ride, one which it’s likely you’ll know someone has been on.
At first, it’s confusing, but that’s the point – it’s subtle changes which make you question yourself much like I’d expect the key character Anthony (played by Anthony Hopkins) is experiencing. What’s impressive is the way he hits something which doesn’t make sense and then covers it up and moves on. While I think this is Anthony Hopkins best piece of work, the rest of the cast do an equally impressive task of supporting the sheer weight of momentum as we move through a timeline which is impossible to follow.
The filming is just as impressive, as we move through the residence they’re geometrically simple and similar adding to the confusion.
The end of the film isn’t what I was expecting either. I showed dementia for what it is, a disease which robs people of their dignity and hope, and their families of loved ones and freedom. Frankly, if anyone wants funding for dementia research, they should just show this film and put a number at the end.
I thought watching The Father was going to be easy. But it wasn’t. It was a beautiful, heart-wrenching piece of art, it’s Florian Zellers magnum opus and certainly the best film I’ve watched this year. It made me want to call my loved ones and make sure they were okay. Few films will leave you feeling as exhausted and moved like this one.
In some ways, what’s disappointing is seeing films like “The Justice League” and “Insert Avenger Named Film Here” (sic). These films have the feel and quality of a McCann Erickson “Gold Blend” advert compared to the The Father.