Although having the academy award winner Anthony Hopkins as the lead, the movie's promotion hardly made much noise till it filled the list of Oscar nominations 2021. The movie was nominated for a total of 6 categories out of which Anthony Hopkins won the best actor while F. Zeller and C.Hampton won the award for best-adapted screenplay.
The movie rotates around the subject of Dementia. As much as there is a chilling depiction of progressive dementia and how patients struggle, the movie also successfully depicts the emotional journey of a caregiver. The mental and emotional upheavals caregivers go through are often seen as a subtext rather than as a core theme. But the price they pay is substantial.
"The mental and emotional upheavals caregivers go through are often seen as a subtext rather than as a core theme."
The responsibilities, the fear, and the compromise of a caregiver come in many forms. The emotional journey of a caregiver is worth a thousand words and numerous depictions. But surprisingly caregiving does not receive mainstream attention in general.
As per National Alliance on Caregiving, the USA sees upwards of 50 million Americans act as unpaid family caregivers in a year. Out of these around 18 million of them have dealt with a person with dementia or Alzheimer's. About one-third of these feel that their sacrifices go unrecognized and 40% of them say they feel stressed.
Hollywood has been dabbling with caregiving in recent years.
The Amour(2012) is a painful depiction of caregiving for a wife and the emotional acceptance of a reluctant husband. Still Alice(2014) also tries to depict the reluctance of a husband and stepping up of a daughter to start caring for her mother. Beginners(2010) also garnered Oscars and revolved around how a son cared for an ailing father even with a non-existent relationship. The Judge(2014) also had a similar setup.
The interpretation of rising from the challenges of once a glorious connection to a depiction of one-way love with acute empathy within a movie is the true test of a screenplay, acting, and direction.
The Father winning all the accolades can prove to be a turning point. The publicity before theatrical release might turn the movie into an enormous commercial success encouraging other artists to jump into space.
Caregivers struggle financially, physically, mentally, and most importantly emotionally. The on-screen depiction of unpaid unsung family caregivers can abate the stress and increase societal empathy towards the family caregivers. We are a long way ahead of recognition in policymaking or the workplace but Hollywood depictions can bring forth a well-deserved issue of our times.
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