The Father” Review: Telling Stories Beyond Time and Space

This is a very “London contemporary” film, whether it is the scenes, colors or music matching, there is a strong tone of London. When “Hannibal” Hopkins and “Queen Anne” Coleman turn into a pair of ordinary father and daughter, a sense of dislocation beyond time and space arises.

Of course, the director’s ingenuity does not only lie in this, but also in his ability to cross all the barriers of culture, language and time, exploring the ultimate mother proposition of mankind, and through a variety of moving details and layered narrative, digging out the emotions that resonate with all people, like a delicate and moving small theater play, the theatrical “immersion It is like an exquisite and moving small theater play, bringing the “immersion” of theater into the movie-going process. “The tangled proposition of “living in a nursing home, hiring a caregiver or taking care of a sick and demented father” is also a problem that every child with an elderly family needs to solve.

The non-linear sensory narrative is one of the biggest highlights and attractions of this film. “The fact that it is not chaotic is a testament to the director’s skill.

As a playwright, this film is an adaptation of director Florent Zeller’s most famous play “Father”. So the whole film’s camera work, composition and editing all reveal a very “collegiate” discipline, but also a deep brand of dramatic technique. The film uses a “blindfold” method that transcends the narrative power of the medium, and injects the imagination and discernment of a “cold medium” like words into the film. At the same time, it also presents the audience with an unprecedented audio-visual experience.

The ultimate reason for the use of non-linear sensory narrative and editing is to simulate the real psychological state and way of thinking of Alzheimer’s patients, so as to arouse the empathy of viewers with similar experiences, forming a theatrical “immersion” and “interactive” new The film even uses an unreliable narrative. The film even uses the perspective of an unreliable narrator, a person with Alzheimer’s disease, and uses narrative traps to cross generational relationships and blur the identities of the characters, bringing the unsuspecting audience into a “temporal deception”.

The film presents the audience with three extremely similar scenes: the warm-toned apartment in the opening scene; the cool-toned apartment in the middle scene; and the cool-toned nursing home in the end scene. The layout and structure of these three scenes are extremely similar, while in fact, the only one that exists in the real linear timeline is the nursing home where the father lives. The father’s own apartment and his daughter’s apartment, which appear in the early part of the film, are all familiar and secure environments that the aging and confused father has pieced together from what he sees in front of him and from fragments of his memories.

This explains the similarity and overlap between the warm-toned daughter’s apartment and the cool-toned father’s apartment in the early stages of the film, and the fact that the decor often appears and disappears in the same way. For example, the father’s costume will suddenly become a nursing home pajamas, paintings will suddenly disappear, the room that should be a study hallway shot will suddenly become a utility room ……

In addition to the “spatial” strangeness of the environment, the “confusion” of the characters’ appearances and story transformation in the film also comes from the “brainchild” of the lonely father. The whole film is a cross between the “father’s point of view” and the “daughter’s point of view”. The emotional norm of the “father’s point of view” is: “I don’t want to go to a nursing home and I don’t want a caregiver”, and the emotional climax is “being scolded by my son-in-law and missing my deceased daughter”; while the “daughter’s point of view” is: “I don’t want to go to a nursing home and I don’t want a caregiver”. The “daughter’s perspective” is linear: she takes care of her sick father independently after her sister’s accident, and is overworked and unable to take care of him, so she puts him into a nursing home.

However, due to the father’s memory loss and deep subconscious longing for his daughter’s companionship, as well as the longing for his deceased little daughter, he can only continue to project his deep memory longing into reality, creating a “memory hoax”. This explains why the male nurse in the hospital will become the “French son-in-law” of the father, or even the “annoying” ex-son-in-law, and the female nurse will appear as the face of her own four-year-old daughter.

In addition to the props and scenes, the film’s multiple metaphors about time are also “reminding” the audience to keep their sanity. Every time the father loses his watch, it means that time and space are going to be misplaced, and every time the father asks a question about an event, it also means that the concept of time and the memory of it are lost. The film creates a large immersive dream for the audience, similar to the logic of the dream, once the awake audience finds the “logical fallacies” and bugs, all the vivid fantasy will instantly collapse, thus getting closer and closer to the truth and eventually to reality.

On the one hand, it disrupts the narrative, giving the audience an immersive experience of confusion and uneasiness with the full integration of reality and dreams; on the other hand, it uses enough clues and hints to make the movie achieve the effect of “wrong but not chaotic”, with a rigorous and orderly structure rather than a disordered running diary. The film amplifies all the senses of the audience through the disruption of the “interlude” and reveals the cruelest truths of real life: in the dream narrative from the “father’s point of view”, the fearful dislocation of time and space is the constant fear and irresistible disorientation experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. In the “daughter’s point of view” narrative of reality, the cruelest tragedy is to see the father step by step towards chaos and pain, while he himself is pressed by life, exhausted and helpless.

The movie is not a suspense film, but the suspenseful audio-visual atmosphere and hidden clues and other usual suspense film techniques still add a lot to the movie. The four-way mirroring and symmetrical, neat composition, in addition to the solemn oppression of the audience in the mind, also gives the film a “The Shining” quality of contrast multi-layered fear of the unknown.

Opera, the main soundtrack of the film, is also an important tool to create a “high class” atmosphere for the film. The opening score is a typical British baroque music, the Chinese translation of the song “Cold Song”, from the “King Arthur” suite, by the British royal family’s royal composer Henry Purcell.

In addition to setting the somber, melancholy mood of the film, this music is also a kind of “sourced music” that calls for cultural awakening. With the solemn and cold musical atmosphere of this aria, gazing at the city of London and listening to the exclamatory King Arthur in the music, the film’s call for “ancestry” and “bloodline” and other anthropological issues adds to the social quality of the film. The film’s subsequent artistic and British-inspired furnishings (chess) and décor (Celtic-style sculptures) in the “father’s” apartment are a good example of the film’s ingenuity in art design for European cultural homogeneity.

In addition, in the episode “The Next Day”, the most famous aria “The Holy Goddess” from the Italian opera Bellini’s masterpiece “Norma” comes out of the old man’s earphones. And the aria “I seem to be in the flowers” from Bizet’s opera “The Pearl Picker” also appears in the opera singing of the movie. There is no difference between a British grandfather’s love of opera, as if it were the same as our grandfather’s love of the Qin cantata, and a British grandfather’s love of chess, as if it were the same as our grandfather’s love of chess. However, the choice of these two operas, along with the rest of the lines, suggests not only the middle-class status of the “father” but also his still “young” state of mind.

Both operas describe and gaze at women. The female characters in the film also represent the father’s longing and redemption. For his eldest daughter, the father longs for companionship and love; for his youngest daughter, the father misses her endlessly; but for the female caregiver, the father is outwardly resistant, but in fact he longs for the company of the female caregiver, as evidenced by the fact that he goes to great lengths to please the caregiver who looks like his youngest daughter. So much so that at the end of the film, the father begins to call out to his mother at the darkest moment. The combination of vocal music and narrative, the “father” multi-layered emotional support on the silver screen, and the above cultural allusion to the same structure for the very media “active music”, everywhere showing the director’s ingenuity, extraordinary taste and skills.

In addition to the narrative and audio-visual innovation, the most interesting thing about this film is that the film’s actors and actresses are playing together, contributing a coherent, layered and deep “textbook” level of performance.

Anthony Hopkins was famous for his role as Hannibal in the series “The Silence of the Lambs” and won the 64th Actor’s Gold Medal, and later returned to earn a strong presence in the science fiction series “Westworld”. In “Father Stuck in Time”, Anthony Hopkins completely washed away his usual “dangerous and charming” image in thrillers and suspense films to show a realistic, emotionally rich father figure.

Whether it’s the confusion of a linear life that is about to disappear and the resignation given by social status and character, or the longing for youth and companionship, as well as the vulnerability, loneliness and desperation when he finally returns to his childlike state and searches for his mother, Hopkins portrays it all just right. Who can still remember that this kind and loving and pathetic “father” was a ruthless and mischievous “serial killer” more than 20 years ago? Hopkins with this work, at the age of 84 years old again won the film, and became the “oldest” Oscar winner, absolutely convincing.

In addition, the daughter in the movie is Olivia Coleman, who won the posthumous gold medal in 2019 with “The Favourite”. Compared to the brooding, complex and perverted Queen Anne in “The Favourite”.

The grounded, vulnerable daughter in “The Father” is actually a more challenging role. The more normal the role, the less likely it is to have an emotional outburst and a grip with expressive tension, and the less likely it is to be “memorable” and thus fall into mediocrity. The good thing is that Coleman is not overwhelmed by the aura of Hopkins, bouncing around with two perspectives in the role of the daughter, the interpretation of the role itself unusual and three-dimensional.

It is worth mentioning that Mark Gatiss, who played Mycroft in “Sherlock”, also appears in this film, which can be considered a rare European “all-star” cast in the “Year of Apology”.

In addition to the narrative, the regular audio-visual language and the acting skills of the actors and actresses, the film also has a strong social significance in the context of aging, after all, no matter what era, “moving” is the only label for a good movie.

At the end of the movie, the father snuggles in the arms of the caregiver, as if he has returned to his mother’s embrace, at this time, his daughter has already left in Paris, a panning shot will turn the audience’s eyes from the actors to the trees swaying in the wind outside the window, combined with the multi-layered conflicts of old age presented in the movie and the regret of sending the old man to the old man, presenting the regret and despondency of “the tree wants to be quiet but the wind does not stop, the son wants to raise but his parents do not wait”, fully proving that on the issue of affection, the cultures of East and West are common.

Another interesting scene in the film is the close-up of the postcard “God of Flowers” sent by his daughter from Paris. This painting, combined with its background – the famous frescoes excavated in Pompeii – reveals the metaphor of “fleeting beauty”, which also coincides with the third layer of meaning of “The Father”. -It is about the education of death and the meaning of existence.

Whether it is an old man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or an ordinary person, all of them come to this world alone and then leave alone. Just like Heidegger’s concept of “life in death”, discussing the space and meaning of existence and finally arriving at a sad core and the extension of nothingness is not a kind of pessimism, but on the contrary, it can stimulate people to understand the value of life more. “If you have a flower, you must break it, don’t wait for no flower to break the branch. Life, as it happens, is also a fleeting beauty.

After the baptism of the epidemic, “family”, “family” and “stability” seem to be the issues that people are looking forward to, while the aging population and the problem of old age are also the sunken stones in the minds of many modern people. The aging population and the issue of old age are also a sinking stone in the minds of many modern people. The director uses this film to give great humanitarian care to the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease, and at the same time, to inspire the rest of the audience to cherish everything that exists.

The fear of death stems from the unknown of linear time. So in this sense, the film seems to be given another layer of oracle education. It nakedly opens the wounds of human beings, exposing the cruel subject of human beings being alone in the end, but giving care and teaching to dispel the fear. Seemingly trapped in time, it actually transcends time, looking into the abyss and thus transcending all unknowns and fears.

With the perspective of European literary cinema and a narrative technique that breaks the conventional narrative pattern, the film presents an unusual depth and “strength” to the ordinary issue of affection and the time-sensitive theme of “old age”. Although some people lamented its over-hype, the 8.7 Douban rating and the positive reviews from the audience show that “The Father” is unique in the “post-epidemic” award season, which is in dire need of “healing” and reflection, and is well worth isolating from all outside circumstances. The Father” is a unique film in the “post-epidemic” awards season that is in desperate need of “healing” and reflection.