The Father is a recently released movie about a man who is living with Alzheimer’s Disease. His daughter is his caregiver. There are some painful issues, so be aware. These are some of the thoughts I had as I watched the movie.
- At times, the movie unfolds through the eyes of the father. The result is confusing and you’re left unsure of what actually happened. One scene contradicts another. The daughter says something and then later states she never said that. Different people show up and are identified, then deidentified. What is real and what is made up? The result is an anxiety provoking maze.
- At other times, we experience events through the lens of the daughter. Father sometimes looks and sounds very intelligent and then states something that sounds very cruel. Is he revealing his true thoughts or is it just “the disease” that is causing him to say that? This is a theme I have heard too often as a geriatrician.
- What is the inner struggle like for a person living with dementia? Is it better to be unaware and angry: “YOU’RE the one who’s crazy, not me!!” or is it better to know that your brain is failing: “Why am I alive, please help me!!”
- What is the inner struggle for the daughter? She would be joyful if the father expressed love and gratitude but instead she is guilt ridden when he demands more service. At the same time, the husband is furious that the daughter is doing too much.
- You never know what the father is going to say next: maybe something nice, maybe something very mean. The experience is that of emotional manipulation and verbal abuse.
- The father can also sense anger and animosity. Even as his memory fades, his ability to feel the emotions of others remains very real.
The Father is a painful but important movie. It’s normal in all of us to compress and distort our memories. This movie IS compressed and time flies back and forth, replayed and then disappearing. The movie is up for 6 Academy Awards.
The Father can be viewed on various streaming services. Here is the official trailer
and a movie review which explains the plot