• by Wes Singleton

The Father - A

Rated PG-13, 97 minutes

The compelling, heartbreaking drama "The Father" explores the frustrating effects that dementia can have on a family. Directed and co-written by Florian Zeller in his film debut and based on his play, it also has two of the year's most devastating, powerful performances from Oscar-winners Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in the lead roles.

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

"The Father" is co-written by Zeller and Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton ("Dangerous Liaisons") from Zeller's French play of the same name. The film occasionally has a stagey feel and a narrative that initially feels frustrating and confusing, but realize the film is told largely from Anthony’s point of view. You’ll then gain insight into how frustrating, confusing and reality-altering that dementia can be, particularly that final, shattering scene from Hopkins, which alone is Oscar-worthy.

The excellent Colman (also of "The Crown") stands toe-to-toe with Hopkins, and her understated yet compelling turn brings stability and warmth to the narrative. Rufus Sewell, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots and Olivia Williams all contribute small but key scenes that will have you asking who's really who, but in Anthony's reality, it makes sense to him.

"The Father" is powerful, superbly acted and will stay with you long after a viewing, though it is not an uplifting film. My advice when watching: in spite of how frustrating it feels, stick with it until the end, you’ll be glad you did.

One of the year's best films, the emotionally satisfying ”The Father” is a must-see and provides career highpoints for both Hopkins and Colman.