Tag Archives: Mark Gatiss

The Father (2021) Review

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The Father

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Anthony
Olivia Colman as Anne
Rufus Sewell as Paul
Imogen Poots as Laura
Mark Gatiss as The Man
Olivia Williams as The Woman
Director: Florian Zeller

A man (Anthony Hopkins) refuses all assistance from his daughter (Olivia Colman) as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

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The Father was a movie I had been hearing about for a long time, ever since it had its premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2020. It was about an old man with dementia that stars Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. On face value, The Father looked like textbook Oscar bait. It looked like a slow burn movie about old people that would no doubt have good performances from its Oscar winning actors, and from the subject matter did seem to fit into the category of misery porn. The marketing and the posters certainly didn’t help. However, from hearing some of the reactions, not only did some people declare Hopkins’s performance one of his best (if not his best), but there’s a lot of praise for the actual movie itself. So even before it received its Oscar nominations I was curious to check it out. I was lucky enough to watch it myself in the cinema and it ended up being fantastic.

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The Father is based off the director’s play, and you can sort of tell from the movie that it was based off a play, from the dialogue, to the contained nature of the story, to the placing of the scene in a singular location for the most part. However, this movie does things with that, which really elevates it and takes advantage of it (mostly to do with the direction). Much of the movie actually feels like a nightmare or horror movie even though at its core it is a drama. It plays from Hopkins’s perspective like a psychological thriller in slow motion, which as it turns out was an incredibly effective way of depicting something as disorienting and torturous as dementia. Hopkins is an unreliable narrator here, but unlike other movies, it isn’t used to make the movie more thrilling or exciting. The reveals and ‘twists’ aren’t just there to throw you off and confuse you, it’s also telling a story. It also easily could’ve just been misery porn, but it’s handled with a lot of genuine care and consideration. You really experience the events from the main character’s point of view, showing his disorientated confused point of view with outstanding effect. The story is sometimes circular and there are events that are similar to each other, we get lost in Anthony’s confusion along with him. For example, sometimes characters are represented by different actors, I won’t say much more than that. You are confused, but it’s not confusing in a bad way, we are trying to figure out who is who and what is happening along with him. It is heartbreaking and tragic to watch, but it isn’t just your standard story. It was quite creative because of how the movie tells its story. It isn’t just an exterior observation of a man’s life with dementia, but rather an interactive experience as the viewer feels everything he feels. Not only that, but we also see how dementia has an effect on the people around them. I never felt like the story was dragging for me, each scene and moment serves its importance. At the same time, it isn’t an easy movie to sit through, as you would expect given the subject matter. It is definitely a movie where you have to focus in on the details, this isn’t a movie that you should just have on in the background. It’s short at 97 minutes, but that’s the right length for the story I’d say.

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The acting is what the movie is getting the most recognition for, and for good reason. First of all, Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins has a long and remarkable acting career. Now in his 80s, he delivers what I consider to be his best performance yet. He’s phenomenal, breathtaking and heart-wrenching in the lead role. Despite being such a recognisable actor, his performance feels incredibly real. It would be easy for any actor to overplay his role given that he’s playing someone with dementia, but he is flat out pitch perfect from beginning to end. It might actually be one of the best performances I’ve seen. Hopkins is getting a lot of well-deserved acclaim, however it’s not just him who should be receiving praise for acting here. Olivia Colman as usual delivers an amazing performance as the daughter of Hopkins. She’s so incredibly believable as this realistic and empathetic character, as she’s trying to grapple with what her father is going through. Like Hopkins, she feels completely real, and really does convey what you would expect some people would go through and feel when watching loved ones go through dementia. Other actors like Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell and Olivia Williams provide some solid support work too.

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This movie is directed by Florian Zeller, and from looking at the premise and at the images, you would initially expect a very static and standard direction. However, it’s anything but that. As said previously, the movie puts you in the headspace of Hopkins, and the direction plays a large part in that. The editing, arrangement of the scenes and more, all of it is handled in a way that confuses us along with our protagonist. The music and sound mixing were incredibly effective too.

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The Father really does deserve all of the acclaim and awards attention it has been receiving. It’s a tragic and heartbreaking, yet unique, well-constructed and greatly made movie and portrayal of dementia. Even if you aren’t as into the movie or story as I was, the performances along make it worth watching, with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman being absolutely tremendous (with Hopkins delivering some career best work here). It’s not a movie I want to revisit but it’s one I’m glad I saw, and I think it’s worth watching.

The Favourite (2018) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Sexual material, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Olivia Colman as Anne
Emma Stone as Abigail Hill
Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill
Nicholas Hoult as Robert Harley
Joe Alwyn as Samuel Masham
Mark Gatiss as John Churchill
James Smith as Sidney Godolphin
Jenny Rainsford as Mae
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne, and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone), arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.

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The Favourite is a movie I was looking forward to. While Yorgos Lanthimos isn’t a director for everyone, I have watched The Lobster and Killing of a Sacred Deer and I liked them both, and it would be interesting to see him take on a period piece. On top of that it’s also starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, all very talented actors. The trailer was very weird and darkly hilarious and looked like something truly unique, so all in all I was really excited for The Favourite. Thankfully The Favourite lived up to all the hype, with the writing, performances and direction all accompanying each other excellently.

This is the first script directed by Yorgos that he didn’t write, with the script instead coming from Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, which was written in the late 90s but was finally adapted to the big screen in 2018. While there’s still some movies I need to get around to watch, I’m pretty sure that The Favourite is the most quotable movie of the year. The dialogue is incredibly sharp, well written and hilarious. The Favourite is actually only 2 hours long and throughout that entire runtime I was really entertained, there was not a single moment where I thought the movie dragged. The Favourite really is one of the best written movies of the year. The Favourite is a dark comedy, and it definitely leans more into being a comedy than a drama. Much of the comedy is poking fun at things that happened at the time like how duck racing was a thing apparently and a very bizarre dance scene involving Rachel Weisz and another character (although the movie doesn’t fall into spoof territory either). Some of the comedy however also comes from situations as well as from the hilarious dialogue (as previously mention). At times The Favourite also leans into the more dramatic and tragic side of the story, and when it does take the forefront in some scenes, it doesn’t feel out of place and really works. The third act is especially tragic and dark. Not spoiling anything, but while I think the ending really works, I’m not quite sure what to make of the last shot of the whole film.

The cast here all did a great job. Something interesting is the way that the actors are directed here. In Yorgos’s other films, while the actors are great in their roles they all speak their dialogue and act in this very unnatural way, and it feels like a very deliberate decision by the director. With The Favourite however, they seemed to have been given much more freedom and seem to act a little more natural. The three main women, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone are all fantastic in their roles, each giving at the very least one of their best performances of their careers. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne and her character is very complex, with many layers to her and her behaviour constantly changing from scene to scene and sometimes within the same scene. It’s both a comedic performance and a tragic performance, and Colman effortlessly is great in the role. Rachel Weisz is great as Sarah, the queen’s ‘favourite’ at the beginning of the film, who is her advisor and often the one steering her and making the decisions for her. Emma Stone has already proven herself to be a really great actress but this is really her best performance yet as Abigail, a servant looking to work her way back up the royal ranks. Both of them are fighting over trying to be ‘The Favourite’ and like with Colman’s character, aren’t all that they initially seem to be. Sarah is at first shown to be pretty ruthless and cold, especially towards Anne, however you eventually see more sides to her and that relationship as the story goes on. Same goes for Abigail, at the beginning she is much more of a likable character and one that the audience can seemingly root for, however as time goes on she shows herself to be very manipulative and not at all how she initially appeared to be. All 3 of them have a lot to work with, with their characters being very multi-layered. They aren’t necessarily likable or what you would call ‘good people’ but they are fascinating and entertaining to watch. The supporting cast are also great but it’s Nicholas Hoult who surprisingly stands out among them. Hoult has proven his talents many times before but he really managed to make himself stand out even among the phenomenal performances by the main 3 leads. He plays such a scheming and hilarious politician character and he steals every scene that he’s in. Definitely a performance that deserves a lot more praise than he’s been receiving.

You can definitely tell that this is a Yorgos Lanthimos film with the way the film is directed. There are many parts to the film that feel weird, whether it be with the cinematography, the camera movements, the use of slow-mo, it has that familiar strange vibe that you get from Lanthimos’s other films, and I loved it. The Favourite really is a period piece movie like you’ve never seen it before. With that said, the production design, costumes, really all of those aspects at a level of quality that you’d expect from most period piece movies, it feels authentic in its setting. The use of music was also really great, and really added a lot to the film whenever it was used. The only negative I found with the direction was the use of fish eye lens. I get that it was used to give off a really off-putting and weird vibe, but some of the wide angle shots did that well enough, going fish eye was a little overkill and it was more often than not used in just random moments that don’t call for that. It’s a tad distracting but nothing movie-breaking.

With its killer script, great direction and fantastic performances, The Favourite is one of the best films of the year. It’s also my favourite film by Yorgos Lanthimos, it’s certainly his most entertaining and accessible movie. Definitely a big awards player (and deservedly so), The Favourite is worth a watch whenever you can see it.