The Father: Film Review

The Father

If Anthony Hopkins doesn’t sweep the board this awards season and win all the Best Actor prizes for his performance in this heart-breaking movie, I will riot.

The Father, co-written and directed by Florian Zeller from his 2012 play La Pere, tells the story of Anthony (Hopkins) and his battle with dementia and shows his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) struggling to figure out what the best course of action is.

I went in expecting The Father to be a fairly conventional two-hander where it’s just two people talking in a room and thought it would be a powerful but generic drama about ageing. How wrong I was! Zeller manages to place the audience in the shoes of Anthony and show us what it’s like to be losing your grip on your own mind. It’s incredibly clever but absolutely unnerving, particularly in the beginning when you don’t know what’s going on. Just like Anthony, I struggled to figure out what was real and what was not, what the facts of the story really were, and which actors were the true Anne and the true version of her partner Paul (Rufus Sewell). It was confusing and it was incredibly frustrating and exasperating – which is exactly how we are supposed to feel. The film forces us to see things from Anthony’s perspective, get into his mindset, and it makes it all the more heartwrenching. Normally my confusion would put me off a film but I could understand and appreciate the point Zeller was trying to make so it didn’t on this occasion.

With the narrative being so tricky to make sense of, the film really needed to be anchored by solid performances and it certainly is. Hopkins runs the gamut of emotions as Anthony – he is angry, cruel, confused, frustrated, vulnerable, giddy with joy, and switched on – and he threw himself into the part and sold all those personality switches completely. I don’t want to ruin anything but his final scene is one of the most heartbreaking and devastating pieces of acting I’ve seen in ages and it brought me to tears. What a terrific performance. He truly deserves to win this season.

Colman has been nominated for her supporting performance here and you can see why – Anne is really struggling to know what to do with her dad. She doesn’t want to put him in a home but he cannot look after himself and he’s been driving his carers away by being so nasty. Looking after someone with dementia is a tough, tiring task and yet she shoulders the responsibility, even when he is mean to her. You can see she has the weight of the world on her shoulders and your heart breaks for her too. She is the emotional heart of the piece. They have great support from Sewell as Anne’s partner, who is desperate to put her dad in a home, Imogen Poots as his sweet but often accidentally condescending carer, and Mark Gatiss and Olivia Williams as the random confusing characters (which make sense at the end).

Most of the time you can really tell when a film is based on a play but The Father was less obvious because it is so dynamic, the flat – the film’s primary location – changes a lot to reflect Anthony’s mindset, time doesn’t feel linear, and scenes are replayed with some differences, from what’s said, who is talking, what they’re wearing etc.

There was so much more to this than I was expecting – it blew me away! It is the most empathetic portrayal of dementia I’ve ever seen, without a doubt. Wow.

In U.K. cinemas on 11 June

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Vivarium: Film Review

Vivarium

I missed Vivarium during the 2019 London Film Festival so I’m glad it’s finally coming out because this creepy, unsettling gem is worth a watch.

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I Kill Giants: Film Review

I had never heard of the actress Madison Wolfe before but I certainly won’t forget the name now because she is absolutely captivating in I Kill Giants.

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Theatre Review

I don’t always do theatre reviews because I don’t really consider myself well-versed in this area but I know a good performance when I see one and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? boasts not one but four. So of course I had to write a gushing post.

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My top ten films of 2016

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Welcome back, folks! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas break. Now is the time to look back over the year in film releases and pick my favourites. These are restricted to films released in the U.K. in 2016 – so it may include films I actually saw in late 2015 and although I desperately wanted to put La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Free Fire on this list, they aren’t out until 2017, so unfortunately they don’t make the cut.

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Green Room: Film Review

GREEN ROOM

I had no idea what this was about but I signed up to see it because the cast – including Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Alia Sawkat – appealed to me. Even if you had an idea about the plot you would still not be prepared for the shit that will go down in Green Room – it is brutal, scary and flipping intense.

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Top Films for May

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It’s that time of the month again – where I choose the releases I’m looking forward to in May. There isn’t a huge amount of good ‘uns but my picks below look pretty damn sweet.

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She’s Funny That Way: Film Review

funny1

She’s Funny That Way is a sweet, little ensemble comedy that harkens back to the old screwball capers where everything goes wrong, the web of characters gets all entangled and it is a joy watching it all unravel.

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Top Films For March

mar1

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ralph Fiennes stars a concierge in this comedy-drama who enlists the help of one of his employees to prove his innocence when he is framed for murder. It looks a bit odd but I am intrigued anyway. This has quite a cast including Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton and Jeff Goldblum. Released: 7th March

 

mar2

Labor Day

This hard-hitting drama won rave reviews at the film festivals last year and it’s finally coming to our screens. Kate Winslet stars as a depressed single mother who falls for an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) who uses her home to hide. It looks intense and that the performances will be stellar. Released 21st March

 

mar3

A Long Way Down

Based on the amazing Nick Hornby book, the film follows four people who go up a tower block on New Year’s Eve with the plan to commit suicide, yet they don’t go through with it when they discover the others there. From then on, they are involved in each other’s lives despite their differences, helping them see that their lives are worth living. This stars Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul. Released 21st March

 

mar4

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans is back as Captain America and he is ready to save the world, as usual. Two years after the events of  The Avengers, Rogers teams up with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to uncover the mysterious threat that could endanger the human race before coming up against the most powerful villain yet – the winter soldier. Released 28th March

 

mar5

Muppets Most Wanted

I love The Muppets, they are so much fun. I’m surprised a new film has come out so quickly after the Jason Segel effort but I will love its cheesy plot anyway. Basically, there is an evil Russian Kermit, who is stealing precious jewels from all over the world. While trying to chase him, the authorities manage to capture regular Kermit instead and the evil one takes his place in Hollywood – will his friends notice? How will they sort out the problem? This also stars Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey with a ton of celebrity cameos thrown in from the likes of P. Diddy to Celine Dion. Released 28th March.