Florian Zeller directs and adapts his often-produced play with Christopher Hampton (Atonement) in a way that might seem restricted by its origin. Though an operatic score burrows into secrets and can be a status and personality indicator.
Yet, The Father can be a surprisingly moving, as well as discordant path through memory and time. It helps that Zeller has estimable thespians at his disposal like Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes) and Olivia Colman (The Favourite).
The modestly-scaled drama deserves mention next to stellar similarly-themed tales this century like Amour and Away From Her.
Hopkins is Anthony, a London octogenarian dwelling in a well-accoutered flat which he appears to lord over until middle-aged daughter Anne (a subtle, if coruscating Colman) begins to get him through the day.
An unfussiness to the material lets the generous director get into his protagonist’s mind which can be upsetting in a humbling, confused manner. A new caregiver of a nurse Laura (Imogen Poots) could be a better fit after previous issues, but it could take time.
The portal Hopkins offers an onlooker can be quietly graceful and wrenching from his deft treatment of such an assailable geriatric. As the authority and charms of this Oscar-winner (known for his clinically cold portraits) are suggestively disorienting built off of anger, fear, and frustration.
In working from the homebound Zeller provides a resonant tenderness from a painful partitioning that braces for the challenges inherent in such a chamber piece. And, the predominant notion of The Father delivers an unadulterated, heartrending understanding from the sensitively drawn unity of Zeller and Hopkins. Not to mention the telling, internalized registry of Anne by an equally top-tier Colman.