I watched this in Sundance earlier in the year, and was captivated by
the storytelling, acting and cinematography.
The story follows Ben (Viggo Mortensen), a father of six, living deep in the forests of the pacific northwest, far from modern life. All six children, from seventeen year old Bodevan to seven year old Nai are fluent in philosophy, history and quantum theory (!), and can hunt and fend for themselves in the wilderness. At least that is until the suicide of their mother forces the family to clash with modern society, and then Ben realizes that he has in fact not prepared his children at all for what lies outside their forest. Bodevan, for example, accepted in a swarm of the top colleges and adept enough to kill a deer single-handedly, cannot bring himself to talk to a girl without immediately proposing to her.
The family's ideals further come under stress when his late wife's father (Frank Langella) who hates the life Ben has created for his family comes into the picture, and forbids Ben from attending his wife's funeral, threatening him with arrest. In what could have easily turned into a one-dimensional harsh/rich character, Frank Langella also projects empathy and deep grief over his daughter's death. When Ben and his children visit his sister's much more conventional family, and her smart phone-obsessed children, Ben criticizes their upbringing, only to have his sister bring his own parenting skills into question. Director Matt Ross skillfully presents both sides here without picking favorites.
Acting-wise the film is captivating, with Mortensen fitting the renaissance profile of Ben like a glove. He projects all the arrogance and hardheadedness of Ben together with his warmth, adoration for his children, and respect for his wife's wishes with grace and subtlety in one of the most seemingly effortless performances I have seen. He is also surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, from the children to his in-laws and sister.
In summary, Captain Fantastic is a rare case where family dynamics, with their controversies and dilemmas are not oversimplified to a preaching doctrine in the finale; the film allows the viewer the space to find their own balance on what it means to raise a child.
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Ben and Leslie Cash have long lived largely off the grid with their offspring - Bodevan, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja and Nai - in a cabin in the mountains of Washington state. The parents have passed their ideals to their children, namely socialism (in its various forms) and survivalism. With the former, Ben considers most of western society as being fascist, especially corporate America. With the latter, he figures that no one will or should be there for you, so you better learn how to take care of yourself in all its aspects. As such, the children have been subject to vigorous physical training, know how to deal with minor bumps, bruises, cuts, sprains and even fractures, and know how to hunt, forage and grow their own food. The children are also non-registered home schooled, meaning that they have no official academic records. Ben and Leslie have tried to make the children critical thinkers, however within the context of their ideals. Beyond these issues, Ben and Leslie made the ...
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October 15, 2016 at 03:51 PM