THE FATHER. (2020) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE FATHER. (2020) DIRECTED BY FLORIAN ZELLER. BASED ON THE PLAY, LE PERE, BY FLORIAN ZELLER. SCREENPLAY BY FLORIAN ZELLER AND CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON.
STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, OLIVIA COLMAN, OLIVIA WILLIAMS, IMOGEN POOTS, RUFUS SEWELL AND MARK GATISS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Wowee-wow. Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his portrayal of the titular father in this, and the film-makers won another one for Best Adapted Screenplay, and no wonder. This is a beautiful, flawless and agonisingly painful portrait of a man with dementia, a man whose once fine, needle-sharp brain is falling away from him piece by piece, leaving him devastated.

Anthony Hopkins is sublimely good in the lead role. He plays an old man, also called Anthony, who is living with his daughter, Anne. He finds life these days strange and confusing. He keeps losing or mis-placing things, forgetting things and people. Whenever he painfully adapts to one reality, the director immediately changes it up so that Anthony, but also the viewer, is left wondering, which reality is real?

Does Anthony live in his own flat with his daughter, or is he living with Anne in Anne’s flat? Is Anne married or divorced, and is her husband called Paul or James? Is this husband or is he not abusive to Anthony, because he’s fed up with all the sacrifices his wife has had to make to accommodate her ageing father? Is Anthony’s home carer the young blonde Laura, or the much older dark-haired woman? Did someone steal Anthony’s watch or has he just forgotten where he’s hidden it as usual?

The scenes segue-way seamlessly into each other as Anthony is confronted with different realities, whilst being unable to tell which is real, which is the past, which is the present and which simply may never have happened at all.

Anthony Hopkins, surely the greatest actor of his generation, runs the full gamut of emotions here, from angry and accusatory to sly and sarcastic to frightened and helpless, calling for his mother who would of course be long dead by now.

His performance is so immaculate he won the Oscar for it. They should have given him all the Oscars and just been done with it. You will bawl like a baby at the end, by the way, so be warned. The last scene, with the trees rustling in the breeze against a glorious English sky, is just stunning to look at and deeply moving, especially given what’s transpired just before.

I love Anthony Hopkins. I’ll be gutted when he eventually shuffles off his mortal coil, which hopefully won’t be for a long time yet. My favourite movies of his, in chronological order, would be THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), ARCH OF TRIUMPH (1984), 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD (1987), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), HOWARD’S END (1992), THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (1993) and HANNIBAL (2001), the sequel to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

Hannibal Lecter, his character in these two superb films LAMBS and HANNIBAL, has some fantastic lines of dialogue:

‘I’m having an old friend for dinner…’

‘So, bowels in, or bowels out?… Bowels out it is then.’

‘I’m giving serious thought… to eating your wife…’

‘Well, hello, Clarice…’ This last one mightn’t sound like the sparkliest repartee ever recorded, but it’s the way he says it and the way he looks at Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling, like he’s amused by her on the one hand and wants to eat her face off on the other.

They have a strange relationship, that pair. He’s fascinated by her and even respects her, and she, though repelled by what he’s done, still treats him like a human being. He likes her ‘shapely feet’ and buys her fabulous Gucci shoes and a matching designer dress, but I don’t think he’d want to have sex with her. I think he’d only want to look, and worship, and savour, but hey, I could be wrong. He could be as horny for her ‘cornpone country pussy’ as a toad in mating season, for all I know.

Anyway, THE FATHER is probably one of the best films on the subject of dementia you’ll ever watch. It covers such related topics as elder abuse (very upsetting to see) and the pressures and burdens placed on adult children who have to care for aged parents with the memory loss, difficulties with performing everyday tasks and emotional problems which all come under the umbrella of dementia.

I’m glad Anthony Hopkins won another Oscar late in his career. Not only did he thoroughly deserve it for this, but it’s also a bit like a nice bookend to it all. Although rumour has it that he will reprise his role of Anthony in Florian Zeller’s next film, THE SON. Hopefully we’ll all live to see that one.
(THE SON, THE MOTHER and this one, THE FATHER, initially formed a trilogy of plays written by Florian Zeller. See?)

Do watch THE FATHER anyway, streaming on Amazon Prime right now. Anthony Hopkins provides us with a masterclass in acting we’d have to be nuts to miss out on.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/
 

BLACK CHRISTMAS. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLACK CHRISTMAS. (2019) BASED ON THE 1974 MOVIE WRITTEN BY A. ROY MOORE.
DIRECTED BY SOPHIA TAKAL. SCREENPLAY WRITTEN BY SOPHIA TAKAL AND APRIL WOLFE.
CO-PRODUCED BY JASON BLUM OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS.
STARRING IMOGEN POOTS, BRITTANY O’GRADY AND CARY ELWES.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Maybe Brian Huntley will think twice before he rapes another girl.’

This festive slasher movie is the second re-make of the famous 1974 film of the same name, but its’ themes of political correctness and women empowering themselves to stop taking men’s abuse/bullshit/sexual and other violence any more makes it a vastly different film to the original one.

I’m not even sure how men would feel about this re-make, written and directed by women and calling ‘frat boys’ out on their ‘rape culture.’ I don’t think the message of the film is that we should hate men exactly, but it definitely wants us to be wary of anyone with a penis, in case they try to put it in us after slipping us a ‘roofie,’ as per the film’s wonderfully shocking theme song.

Part of me while watching this was going, like, yay, women! You damn well empower yourselves, lol. The part that was seeking sheer holiday escapism, however, was a bit miffed that the film-makers tried to sneak in some modern-day themes of male violence against women, but, hey, maybe that’s what we should be doing nowadays, filling our films with socially conscious messages, I just don’t know.

The sorority girls of Hawthorne College, beautifully decked out for Christmas (the college, I mean, not the girls, although the girls look lovely too!), are getting ready to spend the holiday season on campus, for various reasons. A load of staff and students have already gone home for Christmas, so the college is emptier than usual.

The viewer knows, however, from the opening scenes, that a black-cloaked, masked killer has set his sights on the women of our sorority house. He has already brutally murdered one young lady, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the real-life abduction of college girl Georgann Hawkins by serial killer Ted Bundy in the early ‘Seventies.

Georgann was literally walking the very short distance home at night from the frat house where her boyfriend lived back to her sorority house. They’d been studying for a Spanish test which was to take place the next morning. Ted Bundy intercepted her somewhere along this very short route and walked off with her into the darkness. Georgann was never seen alive again.

Anyway, our sorority girls, led by Imogen Poots as Riley, have really pissed off the male population of Hawthorne College. At the college’s Christmas concert, four of them, dressed in sexy Santa outfits, get up onstage and call out the lads for the above-mentioned rape culture they seem to be embracing.

It’s not just empty words on the girls’ parts, however, as Riley has direct, first-hand experience of being raped by Brian Huntley, one of the top frat boys. Plus, in all seriousness, there probably isn’t a sorority woman alive who hasn’t experienced some form of sexual harassment at some stage at the hands of their counterparts, the college men.

Now the video of Riley and the girls singing their anti-rape song, with Riley accidentally name-checking Brian in a throwaway remark at the end, is online and clocking up the views. The frat boys are not happy…

Cary Elwes stars as a misogynistic professor who is clearly on the lads’ side as far as the whole male-female debate is concerned. Riley has glimpsed a secret ritual involving cloaked, masked and hooded frat boys that seems to revolve around the bust of Calvin Hawthorne, the founder of the college, which has been removed from public display after the sorority women protested at the glorification of a racist slave-owner. Those women sure aren’t standing for any nonsense, are they…? And what are the lads up to, as if we couldn’t guess…?

The slasher stuff is fairly standard, although the bow and arrow is probably a little different, if a bit clunky and awkward to put into practice. It increases the feeling that the women are being hunted down and stalked, as if they’re really just prey, like a deer or a moose, which of course they are in this film.

Bow and arrow notwithstanding, it’s good to see the women, who are being relentlessly stalked by the killer(s), standing up for themselves and fighting back instead of lying down and dying under male domination and violence. It makes a bit of a change.

Is this the shape of films to come, I wonder? Will women refuse to look pretty and be battered/raped/maimed/tortured/killed in the movies any more? Who will be the new victims in the movies of the future? Men won’t want to be, so I suppose we’ll have to invent a new third sex to take the flack. It’s all very complicated. Enjoy the film, though. Slay belles ring, are you listening…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234