Feldman @ the flicks

The Father

Peter Feldman: The Father, nominated for a slew of awards, is about dementia and brings together the consummate acting skills of Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

The Father
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell
Director: Florian Zeller
Classification: 13

Nominated for six awards, The Father brings together the formidable skills of two of Britain’s most distinguished players, Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman.

This intense family drama, co-written and directed by Florian Zeller, is based on Zeller’s 2012 play Le Père and follows an ageing man who must deal with his progressing loss of memory.

Director Zeller has framed his production just like a play and most of the action takes place within the walls of the lead character’s London flat.

The Father is not an easy movie to watch. In fact, it is quite depressing. It deals in great detail with the debilitating onset of dementia and how it resonates in the character’s life, mirroring his unique perspective of what is slowly unfurling around him.

Academy Award winner Olivia Colman plays Anne, a devoted daughter to Anthony (Hopkins), whom she frequently visits. In the opening scenes we observe Anthony becoming increasing belligerent with his recent caregiver. Suffering from dementia, he constantly forgets important life events and where things are around his flat, including his watch, despite the fact that he places it in the same place every day.

He informs Anne that he thinks his former caregiver stole his watch and that he will never leave his flat. Anne tells Anthony she plans to leave London and move to Paris to live with her new boyfriend, which confuses Anthony since he believes she’s married to Paul (Rufus Sewell). Anne tells him they’ve been divorced for five years.

In his confused state, Anthony sees Paul as a completely different person (Mark Gatiss) and cannot understand why he’s living in his flat. Paul says that Anthony lives with him and Anne.

The narrative grows more complicated when Anthony sees Anne as a different person (Olivia Williams) after she returns from the market. He becomes intensely frustrated. The new carer, Laura (Imogen Poots), only adds to his puzzled mind set, telling the woman he was a professional dancer and does not require any living assistance.

Over the course of the production, it’s revealed that Anthony has really been living in Anne and Paul’s flat for years, but he still believes he is living in his private abode.

The father-daughter dynamics and the difficulties of dealing with dementia are skilfully tackled, giving deeper resonance to an illness for which there is no cure.

What gives The Father its powerful bond, and one which will resonate with viewers, are the outstanding performances by the central characters, Hopkins and Coleman, who have both been nominated for Academy Awards. They introduce an emotional depth and understanding to their roles that help cement the production and lift it far above the norm. A bracingly insightful movie that will certainly leave an impression long after the images have gone from the screen.

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Peter Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time, he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa’s biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995. He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines, including Artslink.co.za. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long-standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, “Video Games,” which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase “Local is Lekker”.