Every actor dreams of a role where he appears from the fore to the back, where he is touching and annoying, human and selfish, triumphant and childish, cynical, lost and pitiful. This is what happened to the 83-year-old Antony Hopkins, comfortable in all genres and especially in the monstrous and cold characters. Also when the French playwright Florian Zeller went to see him in Los Angeles to offer him, in his first feature film, the role of Anthony, an old man won by senile dementia, the unforgettable interpreter of Hannibal Lecter in Thesilenceofthelambs did not hesitate very long, probably sensing that a new statuette of a better performer could be attributed to him on this occasion.
But if the film, already awarded thirty times, is obviously crushed by the presence of Hopkins, it is not reduced to its interpretation, as impressive as it is. Adapted by Christopher Hampton from Zeller’s play, The father (created by Robert Hirsch in 2012) surprises with its mastery.
Already crowned the title of the most performed French playwright in the world, Florian Zeller, 41, is undoubtedly a filmmaker or, at the very least, he knows how to portray his work. This is evidenced by the framing, the light and of course the direction of the actors and actresses, from which also emerges Olivia Colman, also accustomed to the Oscars, awarded in 2019 for her performance in The Favorite and noticed in her role as Elizabeth II in the series The Crown, broadcast on Netflix. In The Father, she soberly interprets the confused and sometimes discouraged daughter of the old man.
From a simple story – a man gradually plunges into Alzheimer’s disease, groping blindly in the corridors of time – the author has been able to restore, in the theater as in the cinema, the labyrinth of the wanderings of reason or what’s left of it. By small touches, which the decor restores imperceptibly but surely, the director leads the spectator to doubt what he sees, forcing him to reconstruct, if he is able, this puzzle in which reality competes with it. freewheeling imagination of Anthony.
It’s still up to him to decide on the timeline. When is the film organized? When the old man still lives at home, when he moves in with his daughter and son-in-law (but is he really his son-in-law?), Or when he enters the nursing home? Not having an answer to these questions does not prevent us from keeping the thread of this narration which is similar to a fascinating plunge into a decaying brain.
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