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The Father - Film Review

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by Mistress of Culture Vultures (subscribe)
I am a writer living in Melbourne who loves to devour culture and the arts. Visit me at
Published March 18th 2021
There for the Grace of God - a story about dementia

Now nominated for six Oscars, the film The Father written by French novelist, playwright and director Florian Zeller, is showing across Australian cinemas from Friday 1 April 2021. As one of the few countries able to hold live film screenings, make sure you go to see this film.

Starring Olivia Colman (The Crown) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs), The Father tells the story of Antony and his daughter Anne, coming to terms with his dementia.

With two of Britain's top-rated performers, both awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), this film contains magnificent performances by Hopkins and Colman. Zeller has brilliantly transitioned the story from stage to screen with sensitivity and poise.

Did I mention Sir Hopkins is now 83 years of age? Yes, he is the oldest male actor to be nominated for an Oscar.

Each morning brings a new reality for Antony and Anne. Sometimes Antony is enjoying listening to opera in his apartment in London, and other times he is living in Anne's apartment with her husband James (Mark Gatiss), or with her new partner Paul (Rufus Sewell). Antony also thinks Lucy (Evie Wray), his youngest daughter, will come and visit him soon.

From Antony's perspective, each day is different and when things change, it is upsetting, unnerving and confusing. We see a highly intelligent and articulate man struggle to hold on to his sanity whilst battling dementia.

Each moment and memory are new for Antony or present in a different version from the previous recollection. Each moment and memory are also important, to provide Antony with some security and confirmation of his dignity and independence. However, as his mind starts to play tricks on him, Antony's vulnerabilities are revealed, and Anne tries everything to comfort and care for him in the best way she can. But there are no easy solutions or pathways.

Sometimes he experiences happy memories, and other times he is distressed. The only thing Antony can rely on is his watch and his daughter Anne. Although Antony often distrusts her, accuses her of plotting against him, to sell his apartment and move to Paris. Some of the facts are true but Antony's mind has mashed them up in a confusing pattern, which never makes sense to him or anyone else.

Anne (Olivia Colman) is the reliable, stoic daughter, who dutifully caring for her father at home, cater to his needs, whilst working full-time. It is a struggle and she seeks out female carers to take care of Antony when she is at work. Unfortunately, this unsettles Antony and triggers erratic (sometimes comedic) behaviours and he either fires the carer, or they leave out of fear.

The director has used several tricks to keep the audience following the narrative. Anne is often dressed in a blue satin shirt or a white shirt which helps us identify the time in history of each memory. Anne's ex-husband James (The Man) appears to Antony out-of-the-blue in his apartment – however, James is no longer in the picture and Antony is living in Anne and Paul's apartment.

The film gives the audience an idea of what it is like for the person and the carer living with dementia, and the heart-breaking decisions and actions that often need to be made by close family members.

A brilliant film with poignant moments and realistic performances from the cast. A tear-jerker – make sure you take a handkerchief.
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*Mistress of Culture Vultures was invited as a guest
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Why? Experience dementia through the eyes of a father and daughter
When: Advance screenings Sunday 21 March
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by Nicholas Gordon on 17/03/2021
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