A front row seat of how Dementia effects a person

"The Father" starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman gives a first hand experience on how surroundings such as faces, home, facts and timeline are confusing.

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be inside the head of a person with dementia? Take a look at “The Father” starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman, it gives first hand experience how surroundings such as faces, home, facts and timeline can be so confusing.

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This movie may stir some difficult feelings for anyone who has supported a family member or friend through the journey with dementia. Our reason for highlighting this movie is to tell the story of dementia from the point of view of the person experiencing it, rather than from the perspective of the family members trying to support them and come to grips with the challenges that befall them.

The audience get a front row view of how the person’s reality is altered, and how they are experiencing confusion. There is unbearable heartbreak in this movie, and also genuine fear. Towards the end of this compelling film, the audience are not even sure what is the true reality and timeline of the movie. This confusion is by design, and this is what makes the movie such a powerful experience in trying to understand and empathise with an individual experiencing dementia.

The audience knows only as much as the central character Anthony knows, for example, Anthony believes he is living in his own flat that he bought and lived in for the past 30 years. The reality is, this is not his flat, it is his daughter’s. As his dementia progressed, his daughter brought him to live with her. His reality is very confusing for him and the audience also experience his confusion.

Anthony is subject to mood-swings and fits of temper connected with his sudden terror at not being able to work out what is going on. Laura, a Care Professional is hired to support him during the day; he takes a liking to her, but the cruelty of dementia steps in and the Laura he knows is taken away from him. A different actor is brought in to play Laura which is jarring to the audience, it becomes so obvious why Anthony is upset, angry and withdrawn, this is not the Laura he knows. Reassurance from everyone in the room is unwelcomed while everyone in the room experiences a different sort of upset and confusion.

“We experience with Anthony, step by step, what appears to be the incremental deterioration in his condition, the disorientating time slips and time loops. People morph into other people; situations get elided; the apartment’s furniture seems suddenly and bewilderingly to change; a scene which had appeared to follow the previous one sequentially turns out to have preceded it, or to be Anthony’s delusion or his memory of something else. And new people, people he doesn’t recognise keep appearing in his apartment and responding to him with that same sweet smile of patience when he asks what they are doing there. The universe is gaslighting Anthony with these people.” The Guardian