In “Anatomy of a Scene,” we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series on Fridays. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
A corridor. A cupboard. A caregiver.
These may seem like innocuous elements in the domestic drama “The Father,” but when they change from one scene to another, they throw both the film’s lead character, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), and the viewer, off balance.
That sense of confusion is at the heart of Florian Zeller’s film (nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture), which tells the story of a man suffering from dementia by plunging the audience into his experience.
In this breakfast sequence, Olivia Colman plays Anthony’s daughter and she is talking to him about the imminent arrival of a caregiver whom he’d met in a previous scene and who was then played by Imogen Poots. But when that woman arrives, a different actress, Olivia Williams, is playing her.
“What I tried to do in ‘The Father’ is to put the audience in a unique position,” the director Florian Zeller said, “as if they were, in a way, in the main character’s head. And as a viewer, we have to question everything we are seeing.”
He said he wanted the movie, which was based on his play, to be “not only a story, but an experience, the experience of what it could mean to lose everything, including your own bearings as a viewer.”
Read the review of “The Father,”
Read an interview with Florian Zeller about adapting “The Father” for the screen.