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Unforgettable performances in first Reel Monday film

Reel Mondays returns for the fall, starting with a powerful drama about dementia.
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Caring for a person with dementia must be dealing with a real person and their shadow, too. The beautiful script, commanding performances, and stellar directing make The Father a Reel Mondays standout. SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT/Supplied

DETAILS

The Father

Stars: 4.5

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams, Mark Gatiss, Rufus Sewell, and Imogen Poots

Written by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

Directed by Florian Zeller

Unrated, but includes scenes of coarse language and violence

Runtime: 97 minutes

Playing at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27 at the Arden Theatre as part of Reel Mondays.

*Please visit the Arden Theatre's website to prepare yourself for COVID-19 protocols: stalbert.ca/exp/arden

A season pass is $50, or you can purchase your tickets for $15 each (plus Eventbrite fees). All proceeds benefit STARFest – St. Albert Readers’ Festival.

Visit friendsofsapl.ca/reel-monday for more information.

Contact [email protected] or visit the library's customer service desk if you need assistance with purchasing your tickets, or if you have other questions. As this is a Friends fundraiser, there will be no refunds for unused tickets. Tickets can be purchased online until just before the movie begins, but will not be available in-person at the door before the movie.

 

Stubborn is the first adjective I think of when Anthony Hopkins’s character comes on screen in The Father. As the elderly Anthony who lives alone, he is comfortable with the life he has and doesn’t like anyone messing with it. He doesn’t really seem to like anyone, period.

There’s another adjective that immediately comes to mind, too, but perhaps it’s not appropriate for a community newspaper. Anthony has dementia but isn’t dealing with it well. He really isn't dealing with it at all, simple as that. Instead, he lays guilt and blame, mostly on his long-suffering daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), and the string of live-in nurses that she tries to install in her father’s suite. In response, he accuses them of stealing, becomes belligerent, and threatens violence.

Conversely, he can be quite charming, but certainly not with Anne.

To live this experience must be far less entertaining than watching it all play out in The Father. The sympathies run strong for both father and daughter as one struggles to do what’s best and the other clearly is losing a battle of wits with himself — a battle against time.

Hopkins and Colman are formidable, flawless actors and this is the film that offered Sir Anthony his second Academy Award. The writing and the staging of this drawing room play on film (with the lyrical script co-written by Christopher Hampton and director Florian Zeller) are incredible, taking you straight into the dissolving mind of the protagonist. It's a challenging narrative, which perhaps is the most compelling analogy for life with dementia.

We the audience are soon left to determine at every turn whether what we are witnessing is really happening or if it’s all just a figment of Anthony’s imagination. Really powerful stuff there, and enough to spark compassion for anyone dealing with memory loss, or their relatives. It’s a tough watch, but a smart and important one. I do recommend bringing a kerchief for the tears that will inevitably come.


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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