In The Name Of The Father
I do know a thing or two about Alzheimer´s - both my mother and my mother in law suffered from dementia. So I would watch "The Father" from a certain perspective: A daughter losing her father this way and the pain that comes with it is all too familiar.
But the situation French writer and director Florian Zeller created for his first feature film, a confusing puzzle of time and place in hopes that viewers would feel as lost as the main character, is so emotionally touching and precise at the same time - I felt as if this was the first truthful portrait of this desease ever.
Chronicling the painful descent into dementia of an elderly Englishman, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), and its devastating emotional impact on his daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), the drama doesn't simply put viewers behind the lens as outsiders watching a story unfold from afar. In a clever storytelling twist, Zeller's film — based on his acclaimed stage play and co-adapted by Oscar-winning scriptwriting icon Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) — makes them part of what the director describes as his "immersive experience," akin to collaborators in the narrative.
I realized how my mother lost track when she asked the same question every ten minutes - what I never really understood was what was going on inside her?
I knew she was aching for the home she had to leave when she was neither able to live on her own anymore nor accepting any help, afraid of any stranger in he house. But for the first time I questioned our family´s concept of copying as much as possible of her home´s interior; I can see now how that obviously leads to even more confusion.
In his interview with the "Hollywood Reporter", Zeller says: "My idea was to try to put the audience in a unique position — as if they were going through that labyrinth, questioning everything that they're witnessing," he says.
I do not have to mention that my favorite actress Olivia Coleman did a great job and it helped that Sir Anthony Hopkins knows what he is doing as well - but I have to say this film is only as good as it is because of Florian Zeller´s distracting storytelling.
The movie got already almost every award possible. I am positive "The Father" also finds a wide audience even though its topic may not sound inviting. After all, what else are movies about if not offering the chance to get into another person´s head.