The Father

The Father ★★★

This guy really likes that flat!

An appropriate watch after Bergman’s Autumn Sonata and Cries and Whispers. Both deal with weight of caretaking and past reflections. This traffics in that same territory with a Memento-esque plot structure to in theory let you enter the experience of the inflicted man at the center of things, who seems to be in the grasps of dementia.

I liked this to a point. Coleman is always a revelation (I saw someone named Yorgos L in the opening credits as she walked by, got momentarily excited, than remembered I wasn’t watching The Favourite), but the obvious star of the show is Hopkins, who devours the scenery as he honestly portrays the prospect of losing one’s mind. The film overall, I’m not so sure achieves this honesty.

I have grandparents who get things mixed up and have tough time remembering things too, so I’m familiar with the disease. The trouble is, the random memory jumble is different for everyone, which makes it hard to portray accurately. It’s hard to know what’s actually going on those aging minds at all. Considering this, I think Florian is a little too self satisfied with his own gimmick to be honest representation. For one, we generally always know it’s all in this guy’s head so the question what is happening is never pressing- we as the audience maintain solid ground.

And then the structure doesn’t make sense either. I kept thinking that I may just have a Nolan bias but in Memento, we are taken through a highly planned sequence as opposed to this which feels random. Yes, the nature of the diseases are different, but it’s more rewarding in the end with Leonard’s loop than Hopkins’ memory jumble.

Along with some obvious metaphors of broken glass and skipping records, this was a slight but somewhat effective exercise. I guess my biggest problem is that it tries to be both challenging but awards-bait accessible too. I would have loved to see this in full on Charlie Kaufmann mode like in I’m Thinking About Ending Things, which is possibly a better movie about dementia.

added to: 2021 Oscars Ranked

Jordan liked this review