PG-13 mostly for language and cruelty. Yeah, the movie gets a little bit scary at times. I really can't deny that. But it is a different kind of scary than something like a traditional horror movie, or anything else that Yorgos Lamphinos has his fingerprints on. I'm actually kind of shocked that the movie is only PG-13, but I honestly have a hard time really finding anything objectionable in the movie. It still should be viewed by an older audience. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
It's a play! Do you understand how much I want to see the play now? This would make an amazing stage production. I mean, I kind of get it. The guy who wrote the play also directed the movie. But still, this movie is so trippy that my brain is scrambling to see the chaos that could happen on a stage. Part of it is that I'm a snob and want to say that I'm referring to the play instead of the movie. I know. A guy who runs a blog named "Literally Anything: Movies" wants to be even more snobby by referring to the play instead of the movie. I'm a hypocrite and I've never denied that.
My wife, on the whole, is smarter than I am. She gets things that I never really get in film. She tends to figure out the ending of a film before I do and I'm always a little jealous of what she discovers. This is one of the rare examples of where I discovered what was happening before she did. This isn't a brag. Her track record is far better than mine. But my wife also thinks in terms of chess strategies and I'm more of a "Red Rover" kind of guy myself. If you went into this movie with a sense of grandeur and expecting twists and turns, you might be thoroughly frustrated. From the first ten minutes of the movie, I was instantly aware that the movie was trying to give the audience the experience of dementia. But there is that little itch in the back of the brain that really makes one question "Is this all a trick?" And that's where Zeller's story kind of gains a sense of brilliance. Because even though I knew that this was all an experience of losing oneself, there is always the question, "Maybe Anthony is sane and this is all an elaborate ploy." (I'm not referring to Sir Anthony Hopkins as "Anthony" because I'm cocky or a poor writer. I may be a poor writer, but that's completely unrelated. The character's name is actually "Anthony".)
That meta-context is fascinating. And what it does is make you actually question what the genre of the film is. At the end of the day, this is a drama about a man losing his sense of time and feeling vulnerable by his own mental deterioration. Note: I really hope I don't get dementia. At least this blog will be a formal record of a time that I was lucid. We know it is a drama because the story is quite small. For all of the actors in the movie, including a surprising appearance by Mark Gatiss (I'm a huge Doctor Who fan), this really is a story about an aging Anthony with his daughter and his new caretaker. The only thing is, it feels like a much larger movie than that. Because Anne may be a hallucination or played by another actress, there's this scope to this movie that doesn't quite match the content. If I told you, "This is the story of Anthony Hopkins dealing with his dementia while he treats his daughter terribly", that would be an accurate description while also being a gross misrepresentation of the film as a whole. Nothing really seems real in the film and I adore that.
But the thing I really like about the movie is the fact that it all seems effortless. Florian Zeller, with the help of his editor, give the movie a vibe of a more vulnerable and subdued Michel Gondry. This is the movie that would exist if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind aged and felt more confident about the story. I will always love Eternal Sunshine more than The Father, but I won't deny that The Father is one of the riskiest movies that I have ever seen. It's so high concept. I make the connection because, as depressing as this sentence is, both movies are about brain damage. Both movies thrive on the concept that we don't necessarily know the reality of our situation until the story is played all the way through. Not knowing reality is completely haunting. With these kinds of movies (and I know that Eternal Sunshine is unabashedly sci-fi), we get the vibe of science fiction and fantasy without actually participating in science fiction and fantasy. Part of that comes from the notion of what we define as genre. High concept film tends to be considered genre film because it doesn't necessarily have a traditional chronological or cause-and-effect storytelling method.
Instead, we're begged by the filmmakers to use our sense of critical thinking. Zeller forces us constantly to question reality for the sake of building empathy with Anthony. It goes beyond the idea of the unreliable narrator, but kind of goes into the world of unreliable content. Yes, we view everything through Anthony's eyes, albeit the film does maintain a third person perspective. But like Rashomon, we're experiencing the individual's truth in the moment. It is reality for Anthony, but for any other character --including us --it is all gibberish. And that's terrifying. I would fake it just as hard as Anthony does in these moments.
Can I go out of my way and commend Anthony Hopkins? I've, in the past five years or so, been pretty cynical about Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins, in my head, was always a very talented actor. But I always saw him as one thing. He did that one thing over and over in movies. I think I said this in The Two Popes. He's an institution, but he keeps doing the same thing. Finally, I felt like this movie was a bit of a challenge. There's this vulnerable character that I hadn't really seen him do before. I mean, he's still Hopkins and I don't even ask him to completely abandon his foundation. But it feels like Hopkins plus something a little extra. Teaming him up with Olivia Colman is just inspirational. It's such good acting with a tight script and powerful editing. I mean, I don't think it is going to win. But I wouldn't hate if The Father won for Best Picture. It has a lot going for it. I just don't see it being a heavy hitter.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.