Hurray for the big screen again! In fact it’s the only place you can – quite rightly – watch Anthony Hopkins’ masterclass study of Alzheimer’s. Adapted from a play Le Pere, and co-scripted by Christopher Hampton, it does sometimes feel like that the drama is restricted to ‘home’ – albeit which one? His daughter’s flat? His flat? The nursing home? The doors and corridors all mirror each other. Peter Francis’ production design morphs the different sets and adds significant additional disorientation to the main storyline.
Anthony is an opera-loving former engineer who is suffering from dementia. His devoted daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) is at her wits end as he sacks a string of carers, calling the last one ‘a little bitch’. He is obsessed with his watch, which he constantly hides and thinks has been stolen, has sudden mood swings from utter charmer to petulant child – all very typical of an Alzheimer’s patient. Hopkins is quite extraordinary in his capture of the hell of someone locked out of their own mind – and I challenge you not to cry during the final scene.Florian Zeller cleverly shoots the film from Anthony’s perspective as he unravels and charts his growing confusion of people and place. A new carer Laura (Imogen Poots) resembles his other daughter; Olivias Colman and Williams both appear to roast chickens for his dinner and Mark Gatiss and Rufus Sewell mysteriously seem to be his son-in-law. Hint: the clues to the real or imagined time switches are in Olivia Colman’s shirt colours.
Anthony Hopkins is a most worthy Oscar winner, despite the desire to award it posthumously to Chadwick Boseman for his role in what, I thought, a very mediocre film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. So much so I didn’t bother to review it!