The Father

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
The Father Movie Poster Image
Alzheimer's drama has strong language and adult themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2021
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The reality of suffering with Alzheimer's is portrayed with sensitivity and empathy, without patronizing or expressing pity. The movie encourages patience and understanding when dealing with someone with an illness such as Alzheimer's.

Positive Role Models

Anthony is shown to be smart, charming, and funny, but his illness often leads to fear, confusion, and anger. His confused emotions are made relatable by framing the scenes from his perspective. His daughter, Anne, is shown to be patient, loving, and supportive, though struggling with the pressure of caregiving.

Violence

A character is slapped in the face a number of times, and another is strangled in a daydream sequence.

Sex

Character remarks on another being "gorgeous."

Language

Occasional language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch," as well as "t-ts" and "retarded."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol on a number of occasions but are never seen drunk. There is mention of prescribed medication and pills.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Father is an excellent -- but at times upsetting -- drama about a man suffering with Alzheimer's. Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman star as father and daughter, Anthony and Anne, with Anthony being diagnosed with the disease. Scenes are shown from his perspective and are purposefully disjointed and confusing to reflect his mental state. There are heartbreaking moments that are difficult to watch, including Anthony being slapped in the face, and him breaking down in a care home. Occasional strong language includes "f--k" and "s--t." Characters do drink alcohol but only in moderation. The movie is a clever and sensitive exploration into a cruel disease, but may be upsetting and confusing for younger viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byJosieandPaul October 16, 2021

Love and Dementia

It is well acted, very believable chacters. Too emotional for a young child. They wouldn't understand all the misconceptions of the father. Parents should... Continue reading
Adult Written byGabia_lukrecia May 2, 2021

Think about it.

Anthony (Academy Award Winner, Anthony Hopkins) is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter, Anne (Academy Award and G... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMr. Mongo August 11, 2021

Kids will be saddened by this

Very depressing but well made.
Teen, 15 years old Written byClorox bleach June 13, 2021

The Father

I thought this movie was good especially Anthony Hopkins performance playing a dad with Alzheimers. I recommend this movie.

What's the story?

In THE FATHER, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is introduced as a smart, charming older man living in a London flat, which his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) visits regularly. But that version of reality is gradually challenged as it is revealed Anthony is suffering from Alzheimer's and his account of events is not always reliable. As the past, present, and elements of fantasy collide, Anthony struggles to make sense of his changing reality, which seems more and more at odds with his experience.

Is it any good?

Oscar-winner Hopkins gives one of the finest performances of his career as a man slowly losing his grip on reality and experiencing the full cycle of emotions that come with that. In some scenes in The Father, he's the vivid, charming, cultured man of a not-so-distant past. But in others, he's angry and defiant, then in a moment scared and childlike in his need to be soothed. Fellow Academy Award-winner Colman beautifully portrays the pain and frustration of managing the situation, in which help is constantly refused and her motives often questioned. She herself fluctuates between pandering, correcting, and losing control of her own anger.

The genius of the film really lies in its structure and casting. In his debut feature as director, Florian Zeller adapts his own stage play for the screen, making clever choices that leave the audience as disorientated as Anthony's character. One of those is having different actors play the same role, so that when Anthony doesn't recognize his daughter, the audience experiences the same dissociation. Even within the flat where Anthony lives, furniture subtly changes, timeframes shift, and apparent strangers appear as if from nowhere -- some of the most heartbreaking moments coming when he refuses to react for fear he can't possibly explain. It's an incredibly difficult watch at times, but Hopkins' performance makes the film such an intimate and compelling experience that it's hard to look away.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Alzheimer's disease is portrayed in The Father. What are some of the techniques used to show how Anthony is experiencing events? How does the movie shed light on Alzheimer's? How does Anthony's diagnosis impact him and his family?

  • What do you think is the appeal of sad movies like this one? Why do we like to watch movies about tragedy and hardship? What can we take away from these emotional experiences?

  • Discuss the relationship between Anthony and Anne. Did it seem a loving one? How did Anne show empathy and compassion toward her father?

  • Talk about the language used in the movie. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love emotional drama

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