There are plenty of weird families out there. Well, perceived weird families. After all, the collection of loved ones that we have around us have are a bunch of weirdoes anyway, so how can we judge colourful, vibrant, and surreal families, living in love and harmony?
Similar to sentimental movies such Little Miss Sunshine and Moonrise Kingdom, Captain Fantastic has been heralded as one of the most upbeat and emotional movies of the summer. And luckily the film meets each bit of its critical acclaim and then some.
Captain Fantastic revolves around Ben and his six children who all live within the forest. Foraging their own food, home schooled on philosophical books, and trained in hunting and self-defence, their life is a seemingly pleasant, albeit, unusual and isolated from the majority of the populous, save for a few trips to the nearest town for supplies. After hey hear word that their mother (and Ben’s wife) has passed away, due to their unseemly lifestyle, Ben and his brood are banned from attending the funeral. Stricken by grief, the family head on a road trip and will learn about the modern world of today along the way…
In this stirring and meditative film, Viggo Mortensen gifts the audience his best performance since A History of Violence and, as the “hippie” titular character (a beloved nickname, nonetheless), his genuine care for his children is caught in his earnest expressions and captivating actions. Trying to follow a lifestyle that he furiously believes in, his stubbornness can often hinder his parenting and causes friction between his family members and the children themselves. Mortsensen spectacularly captures a man who is so stern in his believes but sees them falter when battled with the outside world and the growth of his sons and daughters.
Beside him, young actors George MacKay, Sami Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, and Carlie Shotwell play facets of original, strong-willed, and humorous children who have their own moments in the film to carve out this quirky yet complete family. Though, MacKay’s Bodevan wholly steals every scene he is in with expressive features and the embodiment of a boy turning into adulthood and yearning to learn more about the world outside his forest.
Director and writer Matt Ross has crafted an impossibly uplifting feature that is helmed by fantastical images, bringing the beauty of natural living and the spirit of the family. The gorgeous greenery that envelopes the family in this quiet world they live in is juxtaposed against the business and sterile world of capitalism, using intense camera angles and beautiful cinematography to utilise the emotions and message greatly. Not without comedy and charm, Captain Fantastic becomes a message of uniqueness and care, alongside an unfurling narrative that is enthralling to the very end.
Captain Fantastic a gloriously astute profound and truly interesting. But these are all non-words, the core of Matt Ross’ film is family instinct and what’s right for the family. Whilst wrapped in this nature vs capitalism debate, the aspects of raising your kin to think for themselves are imbued with a sense of survival and the urge to teach them entirely aware of the world around them. For Captain Fantastic, this never teeters into a preach either: Inside the film the arguments are laid out for both sides and it’ll toil inside you until the significant and earnest end. Taking you into the life of a caring and emotive family, Captain Fantastic is a defiant and outstanding feature.
Captain Fantastic is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!