We’re getting close to Oscars Sunday, and one of the movies up for Best Picture is The Father.
Written and directed by Florian Zeller, the film stars Oscar nominees Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman, respectively, as a father who is losing his mind to dementia, and the daughter who is trying to take care of him. Zeller, who is also up for best adapted screenplay, tells ABC Audio that while it isn’t technically a horror film, it feels like one — maybe even scarier.
“When you are watching a scary movie, you know, somewhere that it’s not true, and it’s just a way to experience the fear,” he says. “But here, what we are experiencing is something that we have to deal with in real life.”
Zeller also puts the audience to work, purposefully disorienting them by placing them inside the father’s head.
“I love…when you are part of the narrative, when you have to do your own job, to make it work…and I really wanted the audience to be in that active position,” Zeller explains. “And so the idea was to play with that feeling of disorientation, talking about space and time in a way to experience a slice of dementia.”
Having watched his own family members deal with similar circumstances, Zeller felt the story would be relatable to other people as well.
Zeller tells ABC, “Everyone has, or will have to deal with this kind of issue, not only dementia, but, you know, just dealing with elderly parents — [that] moment when you have to become the parent of your own parents. It’s something that we all have in common.”
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