Film review: Anthony Hopkins 'delivers a masterful performance' in The Father

The Father stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

The Father stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. - Credit: Lionsgate

It won an Oscar this year but is The Father any good? Film critic Paul Steward reviews The Father.

From French director Florian Zeller, comes this inventive exploration of dementia, starring Olivia Colman and Sir Anthony Hopkins, who won this year's best actor Oscar for the role.

Hopkins plays Anthony, an elderly London resident, who has scared off a number of carers with his ‘difficult’ behaviour, much to the despair of his loving daughter Anne (Colman).

When Anne informs her dad she’ll shortly be moving to France, Anthony’s memories begin to blur and confusion reigns.

The clever script is told from Anthony’s perspective, meaning the audience are constantly wrong-footed and in the dark as much as the elderly protagonist.

Incorporating elements of horror and thriller into the story makes the film feel less like a family drama and more like a genre mystery.

The Father stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

The Father stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. - Credit: Lionsgate

Zeller, who adapted his own French play for the screen, says he always had Hopkins in mind for the lead role and translated the play into English purely for that reason. A decision which pays off tenfold, as the veteran actor delivers a masterful performance. 

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Switching moods quickly from playful to angry and then to confused, all within a single scene, the Welshman hasn’t been this good since his performance as a certain cannibal serial killer won him his very first Academy Award.

Fellow Oscar winner Colman lends solid support, while Olivia Williams, Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell dip in and out of the narrative as interchangeable characters as Anthony’s brain fog accelerates.

Imogen Poots also features and offers a dose of empathy as kindly carer Laura.

While the play has been well adapted for the screen, its stage origins are also quite clear.

The story plays out in a single location and the script is very dialogue heavy, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. 

However, viewers willing to engage with it will find the film an insightful exploration of a debilitating condition, cleverly disguised as an intriguing mystery, whilst the searingly emotional finale will leave many viewers dabbing their eyes. 

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