The Father

The Father ★★★★½

The unreliable narrator is fairly commonplace in film. Ranging from Memento to American Psycho to Fight Club, it is a storytelling ingenuity to convey the narrative in untrustworthy fashion in a way that elevates the psychological aspect and enhances the personality of the story. However, it has rarely, if ever, been used to as a purely dramatic tool and not a thrilling one. What The Father does that I've never seen before is it doesn't just tell a story - in fact it arguably doesn't tell a story at all, as everything that happens is as likely to be a manifestation of the illness as it is reality, and even that which is perhaps real is likely bent out of time - rather it is completely subjective in its portrayal of the predicament.

Using storytelling techniques of a psychological thriller, it is not thrilling or exciting, the suffocating disorientation reverberating through the screen and into our very being as we ourselves experience the sad reality of mental deterioration. Like most films that deal with dementia, we see how hard it is on those who care for the subject of its terrifying grip, but here we are literally in his position, so we experience not just how challenging it is for his loved ones but also how emotionally devastating it is that he is aware of his own burdensome existence on those around him. Debut director Florian Zeller fully realizes that cinema is not merely sympathetic but a vehicle for complete empathy, and his vision is deeply moving.

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