Hanging by a Thread – The Father (2020)

The difficulties of aging. So this is about an elderly man (Anthony Hopkins). His daughter (Olivia Colman) tries to help him as he succumbs to dementia, but he is stubborn and set in his ways. Paranoia kicks in as his situation begins to make less and less sense to him. Now, this was the last big one of the Oscar nominees that I have missed. There are still some others that have been getting less attention (like The United States vs. Billie Holiday) that I still have to watch, but this was the last big one that garnered a healthy serving of nominations. I didn’t have the means until recently to watch it, but I can’t say that I was chomping at the bit here; even though I was certain that this was quality, it’s still rough to watch seniors as their brains begin to shut down. The Father was exactly what I was expecting: it’s a well-executed emotionally charged film that I am probably never going to watch again.

1It would take a very specific type of person to watch this multiple times.

Now, you can probably already guess the main reason why this is getting attention and why people are responding so positively to this: it’s these two heavyweight actors, and they are in it to win it. Anthony Hopkins is outstanding in this. It’s such a terrific performance, and it does not hurt that he is now the age where you could easily see this happening to him. It’s a combination of the material with the commitment to the role and how he chooses to play it. Once you have fully realized the situation you are in, you start to fake it. It’s like Memento; you operate under assumptions and gauging reactions on how you should play your cards because you are always at a disadvantage. Hopkins’ acting may be lesser if he didn’t have someone equal to play off of, and Olivia Colman turns in a subdued but emotionally charged performance. She has so many moments where she doesn’t even have to say anything; you can see the tired heartbreak that is constantly in her eyes. A disease like this is obviously terrible for the person affected, but it is also traumatic on the surrounding loved ones. That point is made crystal clear in this movie.

2It’s a trying experience for all involved.

The Father is a well-made film. I stayed emotionally invested for the entire time, and it is well-paced with no fat that needs trimming. The story has a timeless quality about it, and if you removed the cell phones, it could also succeed as a period piece. I liken this movie to Still Alice; most people aren’t going to want to watch it because they don’t want to watch somebody’s life flame slowly flicker out, and the people who have watched are almost certainly not going to watch it again.

The Father (2020) ****

– Critic for Hire

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