‘The Father’ Movie Review: Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman Will Destroy You

Every awards season, there are a number of titles that general moviegoers simply haven’t been able to seen. So anyone watching the 2021 Golden Globe Awards and wondering about The Father have good reason to be lost. After all, director Florian Zeller’s drama is only playing in select theaters. Still, The Father is well worth tracking down this awards season.

Anthony Hopkins in 'The Father'
Anthony Hopkins in ‘The Father’ | Sony Pictures Classics

‘The Father’ is a family drama unlike anything audiences have seen

Based on Zeller’s 2012 play Le Père, The Father centers on the relationship between a father (Anthony Hopkins) and daughter (Olivia Colman). Although the movie works best without knowing much about its plot, the story generally concerns the ways in which the parent-child dynamic changes over time. And The Father’s approach to this theme is eminently worthy of awards attention.

Touching on such broadly universal ideas is one way in which the movie excels. But what really sets it apart is the way it toys with perspective. As Antony (Hopkins) susses out his new living arrangement with his daughter Anne (Colman), The Father presents itself more as a gripping thriller than a staid family drama. And its brisk 97-minute runtime ensures its pace doesn’t let up.

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Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman deliver Oscar-caliber performances

Of course, it should be no surprise that Oscar winners Hopkins and Colman absolutely thrive with this material. In particular, Hopkins delivers one of the sharpest, most layered performances of his career. An actor who so delicately balances his ferocity and composure, he finds new ways to surprise viewers in The Father. And the latter half of the film undercuts its first in an emotionally devastating fashion.

Likewise, Colman finds depth in a character who could have easily faded into the background. Instead, The Favourite star plays Anne in a way that makes her empathetic even when viewers are doubtful of her motivations. Colman certainly has a less showy role in The Father. But she also brings just the right amount of strength and vulnerability to keep the intimate nature of the story completely in check. 

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Where fans can watch ‘The Father’

The Father might not be the most pleasurable viewing experience. But that doesn’t make it any less satisfying or impactful. So those interested in seeing Hopkins’ and Colman’s stellar performances will soon get their chance. The movie debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2020 and has been slowly expanding since February 2021. Now it finally receives a nationwide theatrical release on March 12, 2021.

Viewers not quite ready to venture to movie theaters — or who prefer to do their ugly-crying in private — won’t have long to wait. The Father will be available on premium video-on-demand services beginning on March 26, 2021. The movie is a likely contender for Academy Awards nominations this year. For its performances and distinctive approach to family drama, The Father is a must-see.