#54 – Captain Fantastic – Review

Directed by: Matt Ross

Starring : Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn & Frank Langella

The story

Captain fantastic follows the cash family led by their father Ben (Viggo Mortensen). He and their family live in the wilderness. They hunt game for their meals they live completely off the grid and are home schooled. Ben pushes his family both mentally and physically and are a close knit family unit. This all changes when they are forced to leave their home due to tragedy and we follow the family on a journey. They search for their place in the world and contemplate their way of living. The film is excellently captured in this dark comedy with lots of heart and genuine connection for their family and way of life.

My thoughts

This film was a breath of fresh air. A unique, weird and heartwarming film centred around a father trying to protect and raise his children in a way that he believes best. Ben is clearly a loving father but his methods are unusual to say the least. The way the family lives while it is beautiful and free to live at one with nature and off of the land. It soon becomes evident that their way of life is threatened when they must leave their home to attend their mothers funeral.

The film starts intitally as a study of their lives in the forests and turns into a road trip film when they go to attend and disrupt their mothers funeral to follow her wishes and not those of her father who forbids Ben attending and threatens him with police if he makes an appearance. The family is seeing the outside world and as astonished by society as we would be at their way of life.

Ben is such a fascinating character he’s unconventional to say the least but when tested he proves how independent, intelligent and resourceful his children are. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he does or believes in but I understand his motives and reasoning for everything he does. His eldest son got into the top colleges in the country. All six of his children are highly intellectual and motivated survivors.

I was particularly impressed with the manner of which the story challenged Ben’s concept of being a parent and protecting his children.

Captain fantastic is a unique and excellently executed film from the acting, direction, script, editing right down to the cinematography and the many beautiful scenes of the forests in the Pacific Northwest.

Captain fantastic is a great display of character work and at its core strong family values and love. Agree or disagree with Ben and his parenting methods there’s no doubting that he loves his children and wants them to live a pure and free life. I can’t recommend this film highly enough, so go into it with an open mind and you should be pleasently surprised with this genuine gem of a film.

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