The Father is a 2020 psychological drama film, co-written and directed by Florian Zeller, in his directorial debut. He co-wrote it with fellow playwright Christopher Hampton based on Zeller's 2012 play 'Le Père', which is part of a trilogy that also includes 'Le Fils' and 'The Mother'.
A French-British co-production, the film stars Sir Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, and Olivia Williams, and follows an octogenarian man living with dementia.
It was announced in May 2019 that Florian Zeller was to direct a screenplay with Christopher Hampton based on his play. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman were cast in the film. Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots and Mark Gatiss joined later that month, with filming beginning on 13 May. Filming locations included West London Film Studios, and Hayes, Hillingdon.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 98% of were positive. The website's critics consensus reads: "Led by stellar performances and artfully helmed by writer-director Florian Zeller, The Father presents a devastatingly empathetic portrayal of dementia." Metacritic assigned it a weighted average score of 88 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim". According to PostTrak, 84% of audience members gave the film a positive score.
Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman said "The Father does something that few movies about mental deterioration in old age have brought off in quite this way, or this fully. It places us in the mind of someone losing his mind—and it does so by revealing that mind to be a place of seemingly rational and coherent experience."
For The Guardian, Benjamin Lee wrote of Hopkins's performance: "It's astounding, heartbreaking work, watching him try to rationally explain to himself and those around him what he's experiencing. In some of the film's most quietly upsetting moments, his world has shifted yet again but he remains silent, knowing that any attempt to question what he's woken up to will only fall on deaf ears. Hopkins runs the full gamut of emotions from fury to outrage to longing for his mother like a little child and never once does it feel like a constructed character bit, despite our association with him as an actor with a storied career."
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "The best film about the wages of aging ....The Father takes a bracingly insightful, subtle and nuanced look at encroaching dementia and the toll it takes on those in close proximity to the afflicted. Fronted by a stupendous performance from Anthony Hopkins as a proud [man] in denial of his condition, this penetrating work marks an outstanding directorial debut by the play's French author Florian Zeller."
Writing for Indiewire, David Ehrlich said: "Zeller adapts his award-winning play of the same name with steely vision and remarkable confidence, as the writer-director makes use of the camera like he's been standing behind one for his entire life. ... In Zeller's hands, what appears to be a conventional-seeming portrait of an unmoored old man as he rages against his daughter and caretaker slowly reveals itself to be the brilliant study of a mind at sea, and of the indescribable pain of watching someone drown."
Writing for The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis said The Father is "stupendously effective" and described it as a "majestic depiction of things falling away".
The Guardian's Anne Billson ranked Hopkins's performance in the film as the best of his career.
At the 93rd Academy Awards, Hopkins won Best Actor and Zeller and Hampton won Best Adapted Screenplay; the film received six nominations in total, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Colman). Hopkins became the oldest actor, at 83 years, to win the Best Actor Oscar.
At the 78th Golden Globe Awards, the film received four nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, and it received six nominations at the 74th British Academy Film Awards, winning Best Actor (Hopkins) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In addition, Hopkins and Colman were nominated for Outstanding Leading Actor and Outstanding Supporting Actress respectively at the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Anthony Hopkins as Anthony
Olivia Colman as Anne
Rufus Sewell as Paul
Imogen Poots as Laura
Olivia Williams as The Woman
Mark Gatiss as The Man
Ayesha Dharker as Dr. Sarai