How Anthony Hopkins Inhabits ‘The Father’ | Anatomy of a Scene

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Published on 16 Apr 2021, 17:00
A corridor. A cupboard. A caregiver.

These may seem like innocuous elements in the domestic drama “The Father,” but when they change from one scene to another, they throw both the film’s lead character, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), and the viewer, off balance.

That sense of confusion is at the heart of Florian Zeller’s film (nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture), which tells the story of a man suffering from dementia by plunging the audience into his experience.

In this breakfast sequence, Olivia Colman plays Anthony’s daughter and she is talking to him about the imminent arrival of a caregiver whom he’d met in a previous scene and who was then played by Imogen Poots. But when that woman arrives, a different actress, Olivia Williams, is playing her.

“What I tried to do in ‘The Father’ is to put the audience in a unique position,” the director Florian Zeller said, “as if they were, in a way, in the main character’s head. And as a viewer, we have to question everything we are seeing.”

He said he wanted the movie, which was based on his play, to be “not only a story, but an experience, the experience of what it could mean to lose everything, including your own bearings as a viewer.”

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