Anthony Hopkins is one of those actors who you can always bet on giving a great performance, no matter the film. He’s been nominated for an Oscar on five different occasions, and he won the award in 1992 for his lead role as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Though Hopkins has provided an innumerable amount of truly phenomenal performances, his work in “The Father,” which opens at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center this Friday, is one of his best yet.
In “The Father,” Hopkins plays an aging man named Anthony who is in denial about his changing circumstances and his increasing memory loss. His daughter Anne, played by Olivia Colman, dedicates almost all of her time to helping her father. What sets “The Father'' apart from other films about Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss is that most of the film is told through the perspective of Hopkins’ character.
“The Father” does an excellent job capturing and conveying the disorientation Anthony experiences as a result of his memory loss. It does this through a variety of means, such as recasting characters randomly to show how he fails to recognize someone as familiar as his own daughter.
There are also many points in which conversations and narratives in the film jarringly switch course to something completely different, which leaves the viewer confused about what is actually happening. It’s easy to get frustrated by the frequent sudden jumps to a different thread or story like this, but that’s exactly the film’s goal. “The Father” is effective and deliberate in confusing its audience, as it’s attempting to make the viewer feel the same way Anthony does.
By telling this story through Anthony’s perspective, “The Father” is able to convey the tragedy and pain of the situation to the audience in a stunning and riveting fashion. It makes the character and his life feel infinitely more real. It’s hard to watch at times, both because it’s hard to follow, and — because when the audience does wise up to what’s happening — it’s often incredibly depressing.
Though the film’s superb script definitely gives him a lot to work with, Hopkins’ performance as Anthony is the most impressive aspect of “The Father.”
To say Hopkins is great in this film would be an understatement. His performance was truly next-level. It’s the rare kind of performance that is so heartbreakingly convincing that it’s easy to forget it’s even Hopkins on screen. He completely disappears into the role, and the emotion and genuineness he is able to bring to the character is awe-inspiring. Hopkins has been receiving praise for his performance here, but honestly this performance should be sweeping all of the major film awards. Anything less is a travesty.
Colman’s performance as Anne is also outstanding. Though a couple actresses portray Anne in the film, the bulk of the character’s development falls on Colman’s shoulders. She brings an immense amount of warmth and poise to her character, who is trying her best to be a good caretaker for her father. Anne faces all sorts of conflicts and problems throughout the film, and Colman plays the character perfectly in these moments. Anne often gets emotional, but she tries not to. Colman captures this confliction of emotional health wonderfully, making Anne incredibly relatable. Colman does get overshadowed by Hopkins a bit, but it would be impossible not to be.
“The Father” is painful, real, heartbreaking and undeniably excellent.
The way the film so convincingly and authentically portrays Anthony’s declining mental state in his old age is hard to watch at times, but it manages to weave a sense of beauty and joy into the entire story. Hopkins’ performance as Anthony is nothing short of amazing and it will likely go down as one of the best of his career. “The Father” is unforgettable. It’s the kind of film that will rattle around in your head for weeks after you’ve seen it.