Anthony Hopkins Will Break Your Heart But ‘The Father’ Can’t Escape The Stage [Sundance Review]

The Playlist | 1/29/2020 | Gregory Ellwood
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PARK CITY – We may have all forgotten just how talented Anthony Hopkins is. And considering he’s “Anthony Hopkins” that’s sort of insane. The legendary actor may have earned the fifth Oscar nomination of his career earlier this month for his role as Pope Benedict in “The Two Popes” but he’s already topped himself for his best work this century (yes, century) with his next picture, Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival earlier this week.

Hopkins delivers an emotional firestorm of a performance as Anthony, a man battling the onset of dementia. Hopkins is so good here we’re confident in suggesting his version of Anthony is likely to become the idealized portrayal of the character, a character that has been portrayed by actors well known and not so well known in stage productions of Zeller’s play all across the world (Frank Langella won a Tony Award playing him in 2016). And despite the efforts of Hopkins and an outstanding ensemble, Zeller can’t divorce his feature directorial debut from its theatrical origins.

Direction - Zeller - Stuck - Reflex - Adaptation

Granted, perhaps the direction Zeller stuck with was a reflex from the first big-screen adaptation of his play, 2014’s “Floride.” That French-language film, directed by Philippe Le Guay, changed everything it could to take the play out of the confines of its apartment setting and place the characters out into the physical world. Zeller has, well, other ideas.

This incarnation of “The Father” initially appears to be a familiar story. A middle-aged adult – in this case, Anne (Olivia Colman) – is having difficulty attempting to assist a much older parent in their later years. Anthony, the tempestuous adult in question, lives alone in a London flat he insists he’s owned for over 30 years. At first glance, he doesn’t seem that mentally or physically impaired,...
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