Anthony, an octogenarian quite proud of his own self-reliance, lives alone in the flat he has called home for several decades, and stubbornly, even rudely, scoffs at his daughter’s attempts to hire a caregiver for him. He’s in control. Completely. But he’s a little put out about the strangers that occasionally appear, claiming that they also live there.
The subject of dementia has been admirably addressed before. In Sarah Polley’s excellent Away from Her (2006) starring Julie Christie, a man deals with the idea that his afflicted wife has transferred her affections to a fellow patient. Then in Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland’s 2014 Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays a highly intelligent university professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s, in a linear examination of a mind losing its moorings.
Now French director Florian Zeller, in a remarkably assured debut feature, takes the subject to an entirely new level, examining the affliction from the sufferer’s point of view. Blunt yet nuanced, effective yet upsetting, the film sometimes plays like a thriller (or a horror movie), with mind-messing tonal and situational twists that would make Christopher Nolan envious.
It’s not an easy sit, but nevertheless not to be missed. It is a riveting experience watching this memorable performance by 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins after a career full of such triumphs. He of course took home a best-actor Oscar for this. And Olivia Coleman (nominated) supports him scene for scene. The fine cast is rounded out by Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams, Imogen Poots and Rufus Sewell. (97 min)