Astonishing and heartbreaking performances from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. A modern-day masterpiece depicting the fleeting beauty of every minute we fail to appreciate as we don’t fully grasp what we have until is gone. A journey of compassion from both sides of the experience. The story reveals the struggle of a caring daughter as she deals with her father’s dementia. We often find ourselves getting angry at older parents for repeating the same stories or forgetting conversations without realizing that one day it could happen to us. This movie will invite you to take a second look and maybe a third, at your elderly parents and people you don’t understand in general. It makes you wonder if the times that you have been thinking that someone else has forgotten a conversation it could really be you who has forgotten.
The story depicts the reality of an ageing mind and what could also be the perception of people who suffer from hallucinations and earlier signs of dementia. When we see someone young and physically healthy it is hard to imagine that the reality that they perceive may be quite different from ours. Hopkins takes the audience through the scary journey of how forgetting things can lead to paranoia, as the mind weaves stories from little details of the surroundings in order to make up for the memory gaps. The fear of letting go of the familiar leads this man to fight every attempt to receive help. It really made me think about life and how we take our ability to be present for granted. We spend most of our lives living in fantasy of fear of things that probably will never materialize, fantasy of things that we want but can’t have. Yet, we spend so little time enjoying the present, without realizing that one day the present may blend with terrifying hallucinations and memories of situations that never happened.
The daughter shows a lot of compassion for her dad, understanding that he does not know what he is saying. I could feel her guilt even though he was not my father. I found it interesting that the father only trusted his daughter, even when he did not recognize her. I guess he must have sensed the love in the way that she was speaking to him. Perhaps is the fact that the mind has trouble letting go of the past, that makes people with dementia so dependent on the person who they recognize and trust. I imagined how terrifying it must feel to not know what is real and what is not, while the only constant is the one person who is locked in the long term memory. The plot depicts the burden, the complexities and stresses of competing priorities in caring for elderly parents when one partner is not on board with the approach.
As the father falls deeper into dementia and his senses continue to fail, he takes solace in listening to opera, the only thing that he can trust to be beautiful, real and soothing. We don’t seem to understand that the ability to do the most mundane things, such as walking, eating, dressing, talking, thinking, dreaming, they all become diminished with age. Nature is kind as we lose our faculties, we do not even remember we had them before. This is simply a gentle reminder to be kinder, more compassionate and enjoy the present.
One thing that stroke me the most about Hopkins’ performance is how much life and intelligence you can see in his eyes. They say that the eyes are windows to the soul and Hopkins’ eyes could not lie. That would be the only flaw in his stellar role.
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