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Age ain’t nothing but a number for Anthony Hopkins in Freud’s Last Session

Anthony Hopkins might have had the best post-70 career of any actor in the history of movies. A hyperbolic statement? The evidence is plenty. Winning an Oscar for his absorbing portrayal of dementia in The Father, playing a sweet Jewish grandfather in Armageddon Time, a sojourn as the MCU’s Thor (including delivering real emotion in the broad comedy that is Thor Ragnarok) and he was one of The Two Popes. These are diverse and diverting performances. Now add to that a spell as the father of Psychoanalysis in Freud’s Last Session and at 86 it feels like he’s just getting started.

Freud’s Last Session imagines a central discussion between an ailing, aging Sigmund Freud and novelist C S Lewis (Matthew Goode) prior to the latter’s writing of The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s primarily a chamber piece. Two great men debate the big issues in various rooms. Although the film leans in to its examination of Man of Faith vs Man of Science, what elevates it to something new is its secondary narrative.

Freud’s Last Session also explores the life of Sigmund’s daughter, Anna Freud (Liv Lisa Fries). A doctor in her own right, Anna navigates forbidden desire and paternal interference while her father navigates debilitating disease and the impending horrors of WW2. Lewis is also in crisis, reassessing his relationship with God given his seemingly illicit sexual attraction and some unresolved WW1 shellshock. All three lead actors deliver excellent work.

Matthew Brown’s direction adds flourish to Matthew St Germain’s adaptation of his own play. Brown’s lens flares, odd angles and crisp cuts make Freud’s Last Session more cinematic but, in the end, this is film about people talking, and it’s all the better for it. The movie nips along as Lewis and Freud reveal their disdain for each other’s worldview while earnestly trying to understand their linguistic opponent. Of course, the two men realise that they are more aligned than their schools of thought would suggest, but neither is portrayed as saintly, with the film covering latent homophobia and the downside of inventing the Oedipus Complex.

Freud’s Last Session is cerebral, mildly provocative and informative. It’s also a great opportunity to see a master thespian do his thing. 


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