The Father, in the name of the father

CRITICAL – Florian Zeller has adapted his play for the cinema, and it plunges us into Alzheimer’s disease. A touching film.

Who are these people? In this apartment too big for him, Anthony no longer recognizes his daughter. Why does she tell him that she is going to leave London, to settle in Paris where “People don’t even speak English”, a phrase that draws a poor smile from the octogenarian. Through the window, the landscape does not seem to have moved. Always those parking spaces, that grocery store across the street, that kid playing on the sidewalk. The old man listens to opera in his headphones. There he is at home. Norma, The Pearl Fishers offer him a safe shelter. Otherwise, it’s chaos under a skull.

Her memories mix with her feet. In his head, what a mess! What an idea to want to impose a home help on him. He does very well on his own. In addition, this young lady risks stealing his watch that he has to hide in the bathroom. And it’s crazy what she can look like to her other daughter, the one who no longer comes to see him. He was an engineer and he tells her that he was a dancer, sketches in front of her tap steps as touching as they are awkward.

Cinematographic finds

By the way, where did the painting that was above the fireplace go? And what is this stranger doing in the living room? This guy pretends to be his son-in-law and allows himself to tell him: “How much longer do you plan on pissing the world off here?” Oops. Reel of the old man. “There is something wrong”sighs Anthony Hopkins – same first name as his character. At times, in his eyes slips an infinite glimmer of distress. He’s a child, suddenly, a lost child who drinks whiskey to give himself the impression of still being an independent adult. He must be forgiven for his sudden outbursts of wickedness. No, he does not want to hear about a specialized institution. It sinks like a stone. The descent takes place slowly, before our eyes.

By adapting his play to the screen, Florian Zeller reveals himself to be a sensitive, fair and clever director. He enlisted the services of playwright Christopher Hampton and director Yorgos Lanthimos, which is modest and clever. It aligns the cinematographic finds, actors putting themselves in the shoes of different protagonists, slight variations of scenery. We are in a sick, weakened brain. Alzheimer’s is embodied in this retiree with loose memories who whistles in his kitchen, before stopping dead. Where is he?

It is a vertigo filmed with elegance. The end grips the heart, plunges into the depths of the human soul, overflows with tenderness and cruelty. The camera leaves the room, rises towards the foliage of the trees, moves away towards who knows what future. The Father is served by actors with sovereign talent, Hopkins poor King Lear in pajamas, Olivia Colman upset by the inconsistencies of her father, real bee against the glass, Olivia Williams whose role he wonders exactly. We don’t risk forgetting them. Zeller, alas, is going to have a problem: his first film is already his best. Hover.


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