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The Father

I had always heard that Alzheimer’s was harder on the families affected than it was for the patient, but that has come to life as we have watched my Mom fall under the insidious cloud of the condition over the past few years. She lives in five minute blocks, most of them quite happy and content, with superb recall of her early years and almost zero recognition of what happened or discussions six minutes ago.

2020’s THE FATHER is a fascinating, smart and sad look at its impact on one family.

Anthony Hopkins (reliably brilliant in his Oscar Winning Best Actor role) plays Anthony, a successful London widower living on his own but slipping. His daughter Anne (the always brilliant Olivia Colman) comes to visit him but he refuses to acknowledge that he loses his watch every day, then accuses an occasional caregiver that they’ve stolen it, finds it moments later and then repeats the cycle.

Just as you think you’ve settled into a family drama, the film flips you on your head, immersing you in Anthony’s mind as another woman shows up, saying…..

I’ll leave those moments for your own discovery as it’s a shocking and powerful way to make inhabit Anthony’s brain. So certain of some things and so uncertain about the basics.

Colman is heart breaking, torn between living her own life with her fiancé and doing what she knows she has to do with her Father. Thoughts are shown and you think they are actually happening. Characters float in and out in Anthony’s stream of consciousness and you’re left as he is, wondering what IS reality.

Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist) is terrific as Paul, Imogen Poots (Vivarium, 28 Weeks Later) is perfect as Laura, a new caregiver for Anthony who inspires a powerful moment of clarity, but not the one you expect.

The final moments of the film are heartbreaking and punched me in the gut, hitting far too close to home. I hate Alzheimer’s. It’s taken my Mom and left us all with a shadow of her former self, with moments of happiness, moments of sadness and days of confusion.

THE FATHER cuts deep into that despair and Hopkins deserved his Oscar for his portrait of a man lost in his own mind. Powerfully moving, THE FATHER gets an A.

Anthony: I feel as if I'm losing all my leaves.

The Woman: Your leaves?

Anthony: Yeah.

The Woman: What do you mean?

Anthony: The branches and the wind and the rain. I don't know what's happening anymore. Do you know what's happening?


Anthony: All this business about the flat. I... I have nowhere to put my head down anymore. But I know my watch is on my wrist, that I do know. For the journey. If not, I... Don't know if I'll... be ready to, uh... To... To...

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