Oscars special: 'The Father', a look at dementia from those who suffer from it

Frenchman Florian Zeller makes his film debut with The Father, an adaptation of his homonymous play, which was awarded the Molière Prize in 2014.

Still from the film 'The Father'

With 6 nominations, 'El padre' is emerging as one of the favorites at the Oscar Awards ceremony. Photo: YT-Sony Pictures

LatinAmerican Post | Julián Gómez

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Leer en español: Especial Óscars: 'El padre', una mirada de la demencia desde quien la padece

With 6 nominations, The Father is emerging as one of the favorites at the Oscar Awards ceremony. Starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, the film brings into the conversation an often undervalued issue: dementia in older adults.

What is it about?

The feature film follows the story of Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) at the height of his dementia. His daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) lives with constant worry about what her father's life will be like, as Angela - her third nurse - resigned after he verbally assaulted her. While deciding whether to send her father to a psychiatric clinic or not, Anne wants to continue her life in Paris, where she got the chance to love.

What are your nominations?

The Father was nominated in 6 categories at the Oscars: Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Production Design, and Best Editing. However, his letters will almost certainly go to the categories of Best Editing, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. In Best Picture, he would have a strong fight with Nomadland.


There are two ways to narrate dementia in the cinema. One is how Kristen Johnson's Dick Johnson did Rest in Peace as a documentary with fictional stretches. And the other way is how The Father did it. The latter offers a perspective that breaks with any canon that has been seen so far in films that deal with topics related to mental health, and if we spin it finer, mental health in old age.

The key to this film is that Florian Zeller masterfully managed to get us into the protagonist's skin with his mental illness. He did it with unfinished mixtures of space, time, and situations with loops that confuse the viewer and perhaps achieve a greater confusion than that suffered by the character, who is actually the one with this dementia. With that simple fact, the film is already a success, since it is a situation that only suffers who lives it, either from the perspective of the patient, the family of the patient, and those who care for him.

The world is advancing at a high speed and as people age, they have no value in society. In many cases, they are almost treated as human waste. The fact that an older adult suffers from dementia aggravates the case. The struggle begins with a daughter who is exhausted because she also needs to live her life at the speed the world demands, but in turn, refuses to relegate her father's care to a psychiatric clinic.

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In part, the protagonist's obsession with his watch and the delusion that it has been stolen could respond to the fact that he feels that his antagonists are the ones who are stealing his lifetime. The final reflection suggests that, and without the watch, Anthony says that he feels that his leaves and branches have been removed, while he returns to his state of a child in an inconsolable cry that yes or yes moves even the most indifferent person.

Anthony Hopkins has such a forceful look. You can easily come to love him and loathe him in character at the same time. After the Oscar won 30 years ago for The Silence of the Lambs, he returns through the big door as a favorite to shine in the ceremony.

For her part, Olivia Colman has managed to establish herself as one of the most virtuous actresses of her generation. Her surprise triumph three years ago for The Favourite, or the challenge of playing Elizabeth II in The Crown, is no coincidence. The unease that he transmits in The Father is of masterful brilliance.

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