Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Father: Film Review

Released 27 Jan 2020. 

Director Florian Zeller delivers up an atypical perspective in The Father (2020) for a film that depicts dementia.

By doing so, he actually presents a perspective more typical than other films about memory challenges. 

The Father is one of about thirty "dementia films" that I've viewed in the last decade.  

I find Anthony Hopkins' portrayal (of a character also named Anthony) to be one of the most realistic. 

The majority of the film shows Anthony in conversation with a handful of care partners: family members--such as his daughter Anne played by Olivia Coleman--or those hired to care for him.  

I judge the film to be realistic based on spending five years volunteering at a continuing care retirement community and ten years studying dementia as a graduate student and college instructor of gerontology.  
Most films that depict dementia adopt one of the following perspectives: 
  • the perspective of an adult child i.e., What They Had (2018) 
  • the perspective of a spouse   i.e., Still Mine (2013)
Less frequently, 
  • an omniscient perspective i.e., Iris (2001)
  • a first-person perspective of the person living with dementia
I'm not listing an example for the last perspective, because these films use this perspective as a "plot twist" for viewers to discover half way through (or later) that the protagonist is unreliable.

The Father, however, let's the viewers know early on that the main character is living with significant memory loss. I cried at the end as I recognized behaviors typical of people in mid-stage dementia. 

By showing things from Anthony's point of view, I developed greater sympathy and compassion. I can't imaging the level of confusion people experience when trying to keep track of names, faces, dates, and places--all while the mind is compromised by any one of several neurocognitive disorders. 




  1. Dear Karen, am no expert, but i cannot help but believe that old people are being told - over and freaking over again - that forgetting your keys, parking your checkbook in the microwave ... are a sign that, oh, yer lame-brain is turning to mush. Karen, i smell an agenda; (and have so for decades) there are people (and their demonic handlers, especially) who clearly want us old folks dead! Asap. Have a great day.

    1. Sue: I agree that there are normal, anticipated age-related memory issues that are NO BIG DEAL because of slowing cognition. People often call them "senior moments." However, there really is an increase of devastating changes to cognition caused by dementia because people are living longer, and age is the #1 risk factor for dementia. Dementia is one of Top 10 causes of death for people over 65 because it gets so bad that they forget how to swallow and aspirate their food, get pneumonia, and die. I encourage you to visit and read their material. I've seen it in nursing homes where people lose emotional regulation and they forget how to talk. They end up curled in a ball in bed, lose weight, sleep a lot, etc. That is not a conspiracy but science. But last week I forgot the term for "ice packs," but that is not dementia. That is tip of the tongue syndrome (TOTS). I had not used that phrase since last summer, so it took me a while to recall it. If my kids wanted to put me in a nursing home for that, then they would be overreacting. But if I end up outside in my underwear and I think it's 1990, then I'm having major memory issues, and I need support.

  2. Dear Karen, i did see a graph concerning mental activity throughout life. Around the early to mid 80s, the graph-line showed a dip; nothing radical, but a dip nonetheless. So yeah, i know there comes a time when the brain is prone to wear out. But, it's no secret, that there are more than a few people who want old people off the planet, before they reach 80.