Film Review: The Father (2020)

Florian Zeller’s cinematic adaptation of his own play The Father is hauntingly effective, boasting two stunning performances from Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman

“Is there anybody there?”

You can usually expect to see most if not all of the nominated film in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards. But even though Anthony Hopkins took the Oscar for Best Actor, The Father has taken its time to arrive on these shores, rather fortuitously as it turns out as it means that you can actually go to an actual cinema to see it should you desire!

Directed by Florian Zeller and co-written with Christopher Hampton from Zeller’s extraordinarily successful play, The Father is a brutally challenging watch although it might not seem so from the start. Hopkins plays Anthony, an 80-something man who has dementia whose daughter Anne (Colman) is moving to Paris and is getting a carer for him. Continue reading “Film Review: The Father (2020)”

2020 British Independent Film Awards

Best British Independent Film
Rocks – Sarah Gavron, Ameenah Ayub Allen, Faye Ward, Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson
Calm with Horses – Nick Rowland, Joe Murtagh and Daniel Emmerson
The Father – Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton, David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne
His House – Remi Weekes, Aidan Elliott, Martin Gentles, Arnon Milchan, Edward King and Roy Lee
Saint Maud – Rose Glass, Andrea Cornwell and Oliver Kassman

Best Director
Remi Weekes – His House
Nick Rowland – Calm with Horses
Florian Zeller – The Father
Sarah Gavron – Rocks
Rose Glass – Saint Maud Continue reading “2020 British Independent Film Awards”

26th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees

Best Picture
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Mank
Minari
News of the World
Nomadland
One Night in Miami

Promising Young Woman
Sound of Metal
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
David Fincher – Mank
Regina King – One Night in Miami
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloé Zhao – Nomadland Continue reading “26th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees”

2020 British Independent Film Awards nominations

Best British Independent Film
Rocks – Sarah Gavron, Ameenah Ayub Allen, Faye Ward, Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson
Calm with Horses – Nick Rowland, Joe Murtagh and Daniel Emmerson
The Father – Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton, David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne
His House – Remi Weekes, Aidan Elliott, Martin Gentles, Arnon Milchan, Edward King and Roy Lee
Saint Maud – Rose Glass, Andrea Cornwell and Oliver Kassman

Best Director
Remi Weekes – His House
Nick Rowland – Calm with Horses
Florian Zeller – The Father
Sarah Gavron – Rocks
Rose Glass – Saint Maud Continue reading “2020 British Independent Film Awards nominations”

Review: The Son, Duke of York’s

Some excellent acting makes The Son, Florian Zeller’s latest West End hit, worth a trip to the Duke of York’s Theatre

“Sometimes I feel I’m not made for this life”

British theatre’s determination to adopt Florian Zeller as one of its own continues unabated as the Kiln Theatre’s production of The Son transfers into the Duke of York’s for the autumn. It completes a loose trilogy of family plays (The Father, The Mother) though it is decidedly less tricksy than either of its predecessors.

The subject at hand here is mental health and in some ways, the directness feels like the right choice. A child of a broken home, Nicolas is a troubled soul – his mum Anne is unable to cope on her own, his dad Pierre’s attentions are split with his new family, and no-one seems to really clock how deep his depression runs. Continue reading “Review: The Son, Duke of York’s”

Review: A German Life, Bridge Theatre

A German Life at the Bridge Theatre marks a titanic return to the London stage for Dame Maggie Smith

“I don’t know whether God exists, probably not, but what certainly does exist is evil. And there’s no justice”

Just a quickie for this, even though Dame Maggie Smith clearly deserves more respect for her return to the London stage after 12 years away. A German Life takes the form of a 100 minute monologue that takes the breath away, not only in the technical skill and stamina for someone over the age of 80 but in the size and sensitivity of the subject matter at hand,

Smith plays Brunhilde Pomsel, a regular German woman whose work as a secretary took her through many employers, one of whom just happened to be the Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. As she reflects back on her life, there’s an appalling compelling account of everyday life in the midst of the rise of such a virulently extreme ideology as Nazism. Continue reading “Review: A German Life, Bridge Theatre”

Review: The Height of the Storm, Wyndham’s

Such pleasure in watching Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins onstage plus The Height of the Storm at the Wyndham’s Theatre is great for post-show reconstruction of this deconstructed story 

“What would I do without you?
What would become of me without you?”

As Florian Zeller returns to the London stage with his latest play The Height of the Storm, you get something of the sense that British theatre is patting itself on the back saying ‘look, we do do European theatre’. But as with Ivo van Hove’s continued presence here, there’s a risk that familiarity will breed contempt as the risk of employing European theatremakers is mitigated by picking the same ones over and over.

Which is a bit of a long-winded way of saying that, whilst I enjoyed this immensely, I wonder if we’re approaching diminishing returns territory with Zeller. The Father was an extraordinary piece of storytelling in its disorientating structure and The Height of the Storm occupies a similar territory as we join long-married André and Madeleine and their two daughters and try to work out who is alive, who is dead, and just how many mushrooms there are onstage. Continue reading “Review: The Height of the Storm, Wyndham’s”

Review: God of Carnage, Theatre Royal Bath

Too short a run and too short a play? I just about make it to God of Carnage at the Theatre Royal Bath

“Are we ever interested in anything but ourselves?” 

A criminally short run for Theatre Royal Bath’s production of God of Carnage, especially since it has er’ from Downton and ‘im from The Royle Family and ‘her from Sherlock and *swoon* Nigel Lindsay in it. I was barely able to fit it into the diary but a sweeping trip to the West Country at the weekend meant I got in just before the final show.

Yasmine Reza’s ferociously savage take on middle class mores was seen in the West End a decade ago and appears to have lost none of its bite. As two well-to-do families come together to discuss a playground incident between their children, the thin veneer of respectability as they tiptoe around the delicacy of the situation is soon ripped away and a real ugliness revealed. Continue reading “Review: God of Carnage, Theatre Royal Bath”

Review: The Lie, Menier Chocolate Factory

“People don’t really want to be told the truth”

Just as The Father comes along with The Mother, The Truth is followed by The Lie. British theatre’s amour fou for Florian Zeller continues apace with another of his comedies making it over to London but are we approaching diminishing returns as we delve deeper into his back catalogue? Director Lindsay Posner and translator Christopher Hampton clearly don’t think so as they return to the Menier Chocolate with The Lie but I’m not so convinced.

The production got off to a rocky start when James Dreyfus had to withdraw due to illness, though choosing Alexander Hanson as his replacement provides a little extratextual spice as he stars opposite his wife Samantha Bond as married couple Paul and Alice. As we meet them, they’re havering over a dinner party they’re hosting that is meant to start imminently – Alice wants to cancel it as she just saw Michel kissing a woman who wasn’t his wife Laurence but their early arrival takes the decision out of their hands. Continue reading “Review: The Lie, Menier Chocolate Factory”

Review: The Mentor, Vaudeville

“There is a misplaced apostrophe on page 57”

Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov studio has become quite the workhouse for churning out new European writing. Florian Zeller The Father has been the most notable and still they come with their transfers to the West End, the latest being German writer Daniel Kehlmann’s The Mentor, with Oscar winner F Murray Abraham in tow.

Read my 3 star review for Official Theatre here (at least one of those stars is for Abraham alone)

Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 2nd September