“O Pai” is a very sad film – but mandatory for everyone
It has been nominated for six Academy Awards and opens in theaters in early May. NiT has already seen it. Anthony Hopkins is the big star.
The film opens in Portugal on May 6th.
It won’t open in Portuguese cinemas until May 6, but before that it will be highlighted at the Oscars, which will be held this Sunday April 25. Directed by the playwright Florian Zeller, “O Pai” is nominated for six categories based on a play he has written and is one of the big favorites.
This is a devastating drama – and with a very original formula – about something virtually anyone can relate to. “O Pai” tells a story about mental aging. It’s more than a story, it’s a portrait of that inevitable time of our lives – and how difficult it is when we become addicted again. Almost everyone has had to deal with this topic, be it a father, a grandfather or someone else, and it’s one of those films that makes it easy for us to think about our own lives.
Anthony Hopkins plays Anthony, an elderly man who lives in a large house in London. He is regularly visited by his daughter (Olivia Colman) but already needs professional help. Even so, she refuses to take home caregivers and insists that the forgetfulness she has is not that significant.
It doesn’t take long before we realize that what doesn’t seem so serious is really worrying. That said, if Anthony can almost convince us at the beginning that his daughter is exaggerating a little, we will see throughout the film the enormous difficulties he is going through.
The film is brilliantly made from Anthony’s point of view. The narrative is completely fragmented because we live for an hour and 37 minutes in the head of an older person with clear signs of dementia.
Anthony has no correct timing, he changes people’s faces – there are literally several actors playing the same characters – and he doesn’t recognize them. It mixes thoughts, intentions, emotions, in short everything. Sometimes we do not know if we are in such a large house or in a nearby house (with a different decoration) where the daughter lives, or if we are, for example, in a clinic. The details change easily and leave us all confused. Reality is presented to us in a very subtle way, blurred.
It is a journey through an aging mind that leaves us lost and searches for logic in every detail – and we have managed to find coherent excerpts – so that later we inevitably realize that we have nowhere to hold on to. Obviously this trip has only one goal – and it is invariably sad, although it is the most natural there is.
Florian Zeller not only puts us in the position of Anthony, but also gives us the often ungrateful perspective of those on the other side – in this case the daughter played by Olivia Colman. Often times, all the effort and care that is put into is not recognized at all because the elderly person does not even realize (or does not accept) that they are in this situation.
Anthony Hopkins plays one of the best roles of his career – and the nomination for an Oscar for best actor (and so many other awards) is fair, despite the tough competition. The 83-year-old Brit gives the paper, which is relatively elastic, authenticity, which overwhelms us. He’s the big star of the film, although Olivia Colman is, of course, an excellent actress.
“O Pai” is one of those powerful films, emotionally difficult, but absolutely mandatory – even for those who may be experiencing an identical situation and are in a fragile state of mind in that regard. It’s a broth of emotions built in a very empathetic way that is not free at all, where there are solid foundations everywhere. It is one of those films that promise to stay with the viewer long after leaving the darkness of the cinema. And that’s the best quality we can point a movie to.