The French-British film project The Father was launched in 2020 by Paris-based writer and playwright Florian Zeller, author of the theatrical play of the same name. Written in 2012, Le Père is his most famous literary work. Among other awards, this work of the playwright was awarded the prestigious Interalier (Prix Interallié) and Molière awards. In 2014, the premiere performances were successfully held at the venues of the Heberto in Paris and the Royal Theater in Bath (the stage of the Ustinov Studio). This was followed by performances in London’s West End and on American Broadway.
Drama & deep meaning of the film “The Father” (2020)
All this prompted Florian Zeller to become a screenwriter and director of the film adaptation of his play. The adaptation of the literary basis and translation into English was performed by Christopher Hampton, known for such films as Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Quiet American (2002) and Atonement (2007).
The rolling fate of the film-drama “The Father”, in which the main role was played by 82-year-old Anthony Hopkins, was largely determined by the charisma and talent of the world-famous actor. Hopkins’ character is his peer and namesake, in addition, in terms of character, he is very similar to his father – a wayward, strong-willed, independent Welshman, Richard Arthur Hopkins. Personal experiences and memories, as well as Hopkins’ firm conviction that there is something mysterious and unknown inside every person, helped to fill the image of the hero with deep drama, adding a little humor and sarcasm to it. In an interview with the press, the actor admitted that the filming of the film greatly influenced him, inspired sad thoughts about the hopelessness and emptiness of helpless old age. In the words that this role made him understand even more deeply how precious life is – the meaning of the film “Father” with its poignantly dramatic story about the age-related extinction of a person.
The screen characters of Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman are Anthony and Ann (in the literary source, the heroes of the story have other names, Andre and Anna). This is a father and daughter who are faced with the progressive senile dementia of an 80-year-old man and are looking for ways to deal with a serious illness. The woman is going to go to Paris, but Anthony cannot be left alone in a large London apartment.
However, there is a problem: due to the bad temper and inappropriate behavior of her father, Ann cannot organize the care he needs. None of the nurses can stand the old man’s violent temper. The daughter goes to tricks and invites a patronage sister under the guise of a companion into the house. However, Anthony rejects this option of taking care of himself. The more Ann insists on guardianship, the more the father argues and gets annoyed, considering everything to be nonsense and a whim of an adult daughter.
Due to weakening cognitive abilities, the once strong-willed, balanced, cheerful and independent person has changed a lot, becoming stubborn and aggressive. The only thing left is the habit of relying only on oneself. The old man is confident that he can cope with his problems without outside help. But in the dynamics of reality eluding him, in the chain of disorienting events, there is something ominous: his own daughter begins to seem like a different person to him, the furniture in the room suddenly changes its arrangement, the clock that he values is very much disappears. In glimpses between bouts of serious illness, Anthony realizes that he lives in some strange and frightening world. Attempts to comprehend what is happening bring only confusion and despair. Together with the main character of the film “Father”, the audience begins to get confused in what is happening.
The brilliant Anthony Hopkins in the role of the aging father is so organic, convincing and poignantly dramatic that the director did not regret for a second that he had spent three years waiting. The fact is that, having agreed to work in Father back in 2017, Hopkins was able to take part in the project only after the end of filming in The Two Popes. In an interview, Florian Zeller mentioned more than once that he wrote the script specifically for the famous British actor. And if Hopkins had not agreed to the role in the film, then, most likely, he would have started the production of the picture in French.
Since its premiere screening at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, Father has been highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. The rating on the aggregator Rotten Tomatoes was 8.45/10. In early 2021, the film was included in the list of contenders for the Academy Award “Oscar” in six categories.