The Father‘s ending scene features more twists and turns than might be expected from a dementia-oriented Anthony Hopkins vehicle, leaving audiences with a few questions by its conclusion. The film was Florian Zeller’s directorial debut, and it suddenly appeared on most viewers’ radar when Hopkins upset Chadwick Boseman for Best Actor at the conclusion of the 2021 Oscars ceremony. Controversy aside, Zeller’s 
The Father features a career highlight performance from Hopkins, as well as an expertly plotted screenplay from Zeller, whose direction provides the film a perspective that connotes the perplexing artwork of M.C. Escher. But the story of the decorated 2020 film begins in 2012 with the premiere of 
Le Père.,Zeller had written novels as well as plays for the stage and screen before 
Le Père (in his native French), which garnered him widespread critical acclaim in the theatre community beginning in 2012. 
The Father isn’t even the first attempt to bring the concept to the screen: the French film 
Floride (2015) uses the bones of Zeller’s play, earning similar critical acclaim — particularly for its aged lead performance. In 2019, it was announced Zeller would make his directorial debut in the world of film by adapting the English version of his celebrated play. He had written
The Father‘s lead role specifically for Hannibal Lecter’s Anthony Hopkins, believing him to be the ”
greatest living actor” [via 
Deadline].,Related: The Father: How To Watch The Oscar Winner,Hopkins delivers on Zeller’s praise in a big way, lending his eponymous character Anthony (the “father” in question) a maturity and nuance accessible only to such a seasoned veteran of the craft. Anthony’s daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) is attempting to find a long-term care solution for her stubborn, but often confused, parent while her husband Paul (Rufus Sewell) has grown tired of the inconvenience this dynamic has placed on their marriage. The catch is this:
The Father is told subjectively from Anthony’s point of view, and given the point of view of Anthony Hopkins’ character is affected by his dementia, certain facts seem to change over the course of the narrative – to the audience as well as to Anthony. Such frustrations culminate in 
The Father‘s ending scene, which is undoubtedly the performance that won Hopkins the 2021 Oscar award for Best Actor.,By the end of 
The Father, Anthony’s (or rather, his daughter’s) flat has reached the end of its several iterations and become an assisted living facility, where he is cared for by his nurse Catherine (Olivia Williams, credited as “The Woman”) and her assistant Bill (Mark Gatiss, credited as “The Man”). 
The Father has actors play multiple characters as a thematic representation of dementia; these caretakers are faces Anthony has seen before, having perceived his daughter and son-in-law each as bearing resemblance to Catherine and Bill at one point or another. At
The Father‘s ending, it’s clear Anthony’s hold on reality has slipped to the point where he no longer can muster the effort to even attempt to parse what of his memories are real and what are disjointed composites of his experiences.,In an emotionally gut-wrenching scene that forms the climax of the film, Anthony remembers his mother to Catherine and suddenly wishes to go home as tears overwhelm him. He confides in Catherine that he feels he is ”
losing all his leaves” in his twilight, and has become unmoored from the things which gave his life value. As he cries in Catcherin’s arms,
The Sixth Sense actress’ character settles him down and tells him he won’t remember this unpleasantness soon, that they’ll go for a walk later, and everything will be alright. In the end,
The Father‘s camera ventures out his window, observing the trees whose leaves rustle in the wind. It’s a heartbreaking and personal moment in the film that elevates the emotional aspects of his character’s story, which is often filled with so much confusion, hazy memories, and a lot of uncertainty regarding what’s real and what isn’t. As if Anthony’s emotional monologue wasn’t enough to bring audiences to tears,
The Father‘s ending song is the chilling “My Journey,” an apt score for the film’s story.,Because of the subjective, labyrinthine quality of
The Father, it’s easy to wonder what actually happened to Anthony and what he imagined or erroneously put together in his mind. The Anthony Hopkins movie puts the patriarch at the forefront, entreating the audience to empathize with him in a way that mirrors the character’s feeling of being victimized by his surroundings. He frequently misremembers faces, particularly Anne as Catherine and Paul as Bill. In one shot, he is smothered by Anne in his sleep. In another scene, Paul physically assaults him. In yet another,
The Father‘s title character discovers his daughter and son-in-law speaking ill of him, only to join them, leave, and return to the same scenario he first encountered. Certainly at a minimum, the smothering was imagined, given he lives through to the end of
The Father, but it emphasizes the sense of vulnerability Anthony feels at the hands of
Old actor Rufus Sewell’s Paul, who very well likely slapped him and spoke brazenly against him.,Related: Why Anthony Hopkins Regrets Making Hannibal & Red Dragon,Then, there’s the matter of his midnight visit with his youngest daughter, Lucy. It’s implied that she had a serious accident and is no longer in the picture — likely deceased. Anthony, not being able to remember this on account of his dementia, continually brings up the subject, especially in reference to how much his most recent caretaker resembles her. In one of
The Father‘s later scenes, he explores the flat, finding it to have become a hospital where he finds Lucy, bloodied and in a brace, lying in a bed with all manner of medical machinery about her. He suddenly wakes from what was evidently a dream or memory, finding himself in his assisted care facility, where he will spend the remainder of the film.
The Father‘s character Lucy being deceased makes sense considering how emotional Anthony gets when remembering her. What’s more, his treatment of his living daughter, Anne, is harsh, as though he’s angry at her for having survived while his more favored daughter is no longer around. There’s a gravity to these moments, though what can be parsed is that Anne is also at her wit’s end caring for her father, who is often cruel to her because of his dementia, but also his underlying resentment towards her and what happened to Lucy.,By the time he’s in the care of an assisted living facility, Anthony’s understanding of the world around him in 
The Father has deteriorated to the point of necessitating constant monitoring. The 2021 Oscars Best Picture nominee ends with the promise that he and Catherine will continue a routine that has clearly been ongoing, though the audience and Anthony wouldn’t be able to tell. Despite the perceived obvious destination of a movie focusing on a parent with dementia,
The Father‘s last scene ends not on a shot of Anthony peacefully drifting into the afterlife, but instead on the trees outside his room. Though his fate is all but determined,
The Father‘s last scene has more to say about his final situation than merely whether he lived or died.,It’s difficult to find a positive takeaway in a story where the subject matter is as fundamentally terminal as
The Father’s, but Zeller manages to support 
The Father‘s meaning as a movie with the aid of a visual metaphor. As Catherine consoles a distraught and disconnected Sir Anthony Hopkins in
The Father‘s last scene, she identifies the comfort of his condition: though he’s currently suffering under the weight of his ending, fortunately, his dementia means not remembering that he’s suffered. Instead of fighting against old age or finding some obvious affirming ending in which his daughter stays with him through the bitter end, Zeller approaches dementia moment by moment, with Catherine encouraging Anthony to focus on what’s immediate to him.,Ultimately, people grow old, and children live their lives – and that’s okay. It’s also interesting in the way
The Father tackles memories, with Anthony mostly losing himself in the moments that brought him some sort of emotional pain — he’s often terrified, heartbroken, scared of being attacked because of his confusion, or feeling out of place. To that end,
The Father‘s meaning is deep because of the way it explores dementia as a labyrinthian trip through the mind of someone who has it. At the end of actor Anthony Hopkins’ 
The Father, the tree still has its leaves, and perhaps that’s the most optimistic statement on Anthony’s condition of all. He lived a life, regardless of whether it’d be considered good or bad (or both) and the tree’s leaves are indicative of growing and blossoming in life, as it cycles on no matter what.,Related: Oscars 2021 Nominations: All 9 Academy Awards Records Broken Explained,Through and through,
The Father would not have worked without a performance as compelling as that of Sir Anthony Hopkins. Whether or not
The Father should have earned a Best Picture win is another conversation, but it’s undeniable that Hopkins’ infuriating, terrifying, and heartbreaking portrayal of a man’s struggle with dementia was the driving factor in the movie’s success. On the other hand, this can’t necessarily be said about Hopkins’ competitors for 2021’s Oscar award for Best Actor. The other nominees in the category were Riz Ahmed for
The Sound of Metal, Steven Yeun for
Minari, Gary Oldman for
Mank, and Chadwick Boseman for
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. While these actors were phenomenal in their respective films, the successes of their movies arguably weren’t primarily hinged on their performances, as was the case for Anthony Hopkins. Despite the controversy over whether Chadwick Boseman should have won, Anthony Hopkins was undeniably deserving of the Best Actor award for his powerful performance in
The Father, particularly for the poignant ending scene that can bring even the most cynical of viewers to tears.,Next: How 2021’s Best Picture Oscar Nominee Rotten Tomatoes Scores Compare