Dementia isn’t a subject that many of us would necessarily reach for when choosing a film to watch of an evening. But The Father, starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, is not just about just about this devastating condition, it’s also about love - the love between a father and daughter and what happens when love is tested to its absolute limits.
The movie, helmed by first-time director Florian Zeller, rightfully earned Hopkins an Oscar for his performance as an elderly man who is slowly but brutally losing his memory. It’s told from his perspective with the narrative becoming more jumbled and confusing as the dementia tightens its grip. The viewer is left disorientated and scared as the world becomes a trippy horror.
"I'd never read anything like that, anything set from that point of view," says Olivia Colman, who plays the lead protagonist's daughter, Anne. "You see Anne get frustrated and cross, but when you see it through his eyes, you realise he's not doing it on purpose, he's not trying to be annoying. He's trying to do what he normally does and his synapses are letting him down."
For Colman, it was also a reminder of how brutal growing older can be. "My mum always said, 'old age is not for the weak,'" she said. "It's a famous saying, I don't know where it came from, but if only you could just keep everything, your marbles, your health, right to the very end - brilliant. But the fact that something has to let you down is so cruel... and unkind. I'll do whatever it takes to keep all this stuff at bay for as long as possible. Cold water swims are supposed to be very good for dementia, so I'm going to start doing that."
Watch Olivia Colman and Florian Zeller discuss ageing, dementia and the wisdom of Anthony Hopkins in the interview above.
The Father is out on cinemas now.
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