It is an inescapable fact of life that for every relationship between a parent and a child, there is a moment in time where the child becomes a carer, and the parent a dependent.

This is at the core of ‘The Father.’ It is a beautifully wrought family drama that brings together Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in a heart-rending account of what happens when a relationship which has colored our every waking moment for decades suddenly and irrevocably changes.

Making his debut as film director is the award-winning French playwright, Florian Zeller, who shares the writing duties with his long-time collaborator and translator Christopher Hampton. Florian steers a dazzling cast headed by Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman as an elderly father and his middle-aged daughter struggling to adapt to changed circumstances.

Florian Zeller, who has moved into cinema from the world of theatre, is accustomed to building a relationship with the audience which he describes in French as “ludique” – best understood as “playful.” Far from film’s common role as a naturalistic medium, audiences will discover that what we see on the screen does not necessarily give us a true version of the world.

In ‘The Father’ we experience the world through the prism of the character Anthony’s confusion, as his dementia sets in motion a gradual decline effecting every part of his reality. But this is not just a film about dementia, and he is more than an unreliable narrator. He is at the center of a struggle which gives ‘The Father’ elements of both thriller and horror – with Anthony’s mind as the unremitting nemesis. In the words of the director, the audience should feel as if they are “groping their way through a labyrinth.”

Despite such apparently dark subject matter, ‘The Father’ is built on a foundation of human empathy, with moments of laughter and even a sense of joy. It celebrates the unbreakable bond between parent and child as they are locked together on a journey into the unknown.

Already nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, the film is set to release on February 26th.

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