Sunday, May 2, 2021

Never Too Late --- Day 10/2

Walk: Artist friend, Lorna Strotz's art exhibition at Piedmont Art Walk

Distance: Not far in lovely Piedmont, small yoga.  Nice, relaxing day with actual people

Anthony Hopkins in The Father

Ciwt was a bit shocked when Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Actor.  She was in good company: the actor himself was off in Wales, apparently with nary a thought of winning.

The reason for Ciwt's surprise is simple: she hadn't seen The Father. She still might not have if her 'movie partner' back East hadn't texted her to watch it.  

If you're like Ciwt and staying away from what you fear will be an unnerving or depressing look at dementia, fear not.  The French playwright, Florian Zeller, has written a script which is unsparing in its portrayal of the stubborness and grip of dementia while giving the man who sufferrs from it dignity and a wide range of personality.  And then Anthony Hopkins makes him soar while breaking your heart.  

It is an incredible accomplishment by the great actor.  All the more so because there isn't a moment when you think Hopkins is acting.  He comes off the screen into your understanding with completely natural spontaneity.  Which of course it isn't.  

After all these years of watching the 83 year old actor excel in so many parts, Ciwt finally learned that that utter naturalness is what people in the theater and cinema worlds - writers, directors, fellow actors - know him for.  And marvel at.  Who, thirty years later, doesn't still get chills visualing Hopkins hissing "Hello Clarice" in Silence of the Lambs?  

And that 'naturalness' is as 'natural' as anyone's at the top of his or her field.  In other words, it comes from innate exceptional abilities, razor sharp focus and near constant training and practice.  After memorizing his lines, Hopkins rehearses them privately as many as 200 times until they are embedded in his being and truly 'spontaneous.'  Then, when he comes to the set for filming, he's done with rehearsing.  Ideally, and as much as possilbe Zeller gave him that, he is filmed just once.  As Hopkings himself has said about rehearsing close to the time of production, "You sit in a hotel banquet room and rehearse the thing to death.  You can overdo it.  As an actor, you need to clear the brain of other thinking and have a sense of ease and a sense fun."

And, there it is!  The father's struggle in th emovie should be tragic, but Hopkins elevates it into something that has wings because you can see the character's quick mind at work however imperfectly and somewhere, somehow you sense he and Hopkins are feeling that sense of ease and fun.

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