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The Father

Anne (Olivia Coleman) is caring for her father Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) who has advanced dementia. As Anthony is rapidly losing his way, Anne is trying desperately to hang on and cope as his mind deteriorates. I have seen a lot of films about dementia (and have like most all of them), but this is the first time I have seen a film portray what it is like in the head of someone who has dementia rather than what the people outside him see. The effect and emotional impact are incredible. Both Coleman and Hopkins give exceptional and award-worthy performances, but what Hopkins does is special. He captures what I imagine it must be like to live in his body and what it is like for others around him. He is alternating (and sometimes simultaneously) lovable, funny, obnoxious, confused, mean. But at all times, Anne brings huge compassion to the role and sympathy for what her father is going through; she clearly loves him, and he loves her, and she has to deal with losing him. Hopkins’s final scenes are profound and utterly heartbreaking.  In some ways, the score, and the shifting perspectives, play out like a clever horror film. Huge thumbs up from me for a film that is well written, directed, and acted. This is clearly one of the films of the year. And this is an example of how a play can be adapted in a way that optimizes the advantages of film. (2020; 5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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