I was only passingly interested in “The Father,” but I’ll be honest: From the moment it began, I was completely enraptured by its unfolding drama. Imagine a combination of Michael Haneke’s “Amour” and 2014’s “Still Alice”: We spend the entire movie in the company of Anthony Hopkins, who wanders from room to room in a London flat, losing himself in increasingly shambled, confused memories as we watch the impact of his psychological deterioration on those around him, in particular daughter Olivia Colman. Colman’s face registers the fresh wounds of her tempestuous, emotionally volatile father, who makes casually cruel remarks at her as she busies herself around him, making his life more comfortable with the steely dignity of the long-suffering. Her’s is an extraordinary performance, one that carries the weight of a lifetime of passive aggressive putdowns and paternal disregard with it, but effectively contrasted by her instinctive sense of responsibility towards her father, which makes for an electrifyingly charged subtext to accompany the proceedings. But really, this is all about Hopkins, and he does some career-best work here. His gravitas and command of the camera are not dulled by the passage of time but instead perfectly honed, but this is not a lazy or phoned-in performance by a longtime professional, this is the work of a seasoned artist who understands his craft front and back who seems to have felt great inspiration in this role. Ultimately “The Father” us a meditative, talky, micronarrative-type of drama so it’s certainly not for everyone, but those who appreciate serious acting and deliberately fragmented narratives will love it.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)