This film is a masterpiece of dramaturgy, adapted to the cinematographic format by its own author, the French director Florian Zeller, who received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in February of this year.
But this film is also a harrowing immersion into the mind of a person struggling with senile dementia and its gradual deterioration, faithfully depicting the self-deception to which its victims are subjected. And the one in charge of assuming this moving role could not be anyone better than Anthony Hopkins, since the character in this story was made to measure and with dramatic demands at the height of the Welsh actor.
At 83, Hopkins plays in ‘The father’, a homonymous Anthony, an octogenarian who at the beginning of the film lives alone in his apartment, or so he thinks, but through a succession of scenes and a very It seeks to recreate the perspective of the protagonist, the observer gradually realizes that there is no certainty in the life of the elderly father, because the apartment, as well as the obsession with his watch, and even with one of his daughters, are only memories and projections of a tormented mind that no longer tolerates the present and gradually becomes clouded.
The last to accept reality is the protagonist, only at the end, when despite all his efforts to oppose Anthony is taken to an asylum, in an overwhelming scene where the crudest maturity and childish tenderness are mixed, he comes to recognize his own fragility and that he depends on others to know who he is, where he is and what time it is. For this performance, Anthony Hopkins received the second Oscar for this film in the category of Best Actor, and the second in his career, thus becoming the longest-lived person to win this award.
The fight against this inevitable mental decline is not only presented from the perspective of Anthony, the father. The film also shows snippets of the effort made by daughter Anne, played by fellow Oscar winner Olivia Colman. At first the daughter, like the father, refuses to accept that this old man, who sometimes does not recognize her, is getting lost in a labyrinth from which only traumas from the past emerge, such as the continuous mention of his other daughter, Lucy, who apparently died very young in an accident, but her father has forgotten that little detail and expects her to visit him at any time.
In ‘The father’ the intensity of scenes composed with only two characters stands out, in closed shots, and most of them resolved in the same apartment, which is gradually disinhabiting, something that could be understood as a metaphor of the mind of the protagonist. Anthony is being left in an existential void from which no one can rescue him, and his final loneliness is painfully perceived by all. So looking at that empty apartment is like being in the mind of a man who forgot himself.
In this sense, ‘The father’ manages to generate an anguish typical of the most hopeless works of Samuel Beckett. The elderly father will continue to wait for the visit of his living and dead daughter, because finally the one who will never return from oblivion is himself. In the end, Anthony will be one of those anonymous and lonely men who ask anyone, not for the time but their own name, as if warning them with terror that in this world oblivion comes long before death.
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Forgetting oneself, review of the film ‘The father’ and the performance of Anthony Hopkins