The Father

The Father ★★★★

At once both an unsettlingly accurate simulation of what it’s like to love someone with dementia, and also a strikingly believable conception of what it’s like to live as someone with dementia, Florian Zeller’s “The Father” envisions senility as a house of mirrors in which everyone loses sight of themselves. Adapted from Zeller’s award-winning play of the same name, and directed with a firm hand by the playwright himself, this M.C. Escher drawing of a movie chips away at the austerity of the Euro-dramas that inform its style until every shot betrays the promise of its objectivity, and reality itself becomes destabilized.

“The Father” is a slippery film in which even the most basic information can be vaporized in the span of a single cut, but there’s no ambiguity to the fact that Anthony Hopkins plays the title role (although it might be worth noting that the character’s name has been changed from Andre to Anthony, a self-reflexive detail that adds a crunchy meta core to one of the movie’s most harrowing moments). Anthony is not well, but even that much isn’t clear at first. For better or worse he still has the vim and vigor of a much younger man, but his mind is a leaky ship in search of a lighthouse surrounded by jagged rocks.