Captain Fantastic Review
Directed By Matt Ross
Stars: Viggo Mortensen/Frank Langella/Kathryn Hahn
Year Released: 2016
Running Time: 1 Hour 58 Minutes
You’re prepared for everything except for Spoilers
It’s almost impossible to tell what people really what because they want so many different things. Sill in my experience, what people want most beyond the thousand little things that come and go, is safety for their family, the ability to raise their kids how they want and the freedom to live however they choose. In today’s, modern world all three of these are hard to come by, but the third is the most elusive of all. “Captain Fantastic,” tells the tale of a man trying to have everything and what can come of it.
Our titular captain is Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) whose disgust with the modern world and revolutionary beliefs led him and his wife Leslie (Trin Miller) to gradually abandon the civilized world to live in the forests of Washinton state with their six children. Here the children are raised to self-sufficient survivalists as well as politically minded revolutionary philosophers. This all comes to a halt when Leslie (who is already hospitalized by the movies beginning) commits suicide due to her bipolar disorder.
This devastates the family especially the rebellious young son Relian (Nicholas Hamilton) and the oldest son Bodevan “Bo” Cash (George MacKay) who hides a huge secret from his father. Ben’s father-in-law Jack (Frank Langella) arranges a Christian Funeral for Leslie in her home state despite the protests of Ben and Leslie’s own will. Jack despises Ben and says that if he sees him at the funeral he will have him arrested. Like any good revolutionary, this just makes Ben more determined as he and his family begin a cross-country road trip slash mission of liberation.
“Captain Fantastic” is an excellent film to talk about. You’re personal opinion on Ben and the life he’s made for his family you’re opinion can change radically. He is determined to teach his children to be self-reliant critical thinkers and this can make him seem extremely blunt and terribly harsh. When his youngest son Nal (Charlie Shotwell) ask him what a brothel or rape is he gives a completely honest answer and when Rellian slips during a climbing exercise he refuse to help. Depending on how you view these actions Ben is either the ultimate father or an abusive monster.
I don’t see him as either Mr. Rogers or Charles Manson but like any radical, I think that despite his noble intentions and convictions he undermines himself with his vanity and lack of foresight. Raising children to be more educated and less medicated is extremely noble if only to disprove the stereotype of the fat and stupid American child, but what would have happened if things didn’t go according to plan.
If one of his children had accidentally fallen down a hill and cracked their skull, they would have been doomed because there was no way that Ben could have gotten them to a hospital in time. This oversight wasn’t due to Ben not caring, he displays nothing but total love and devotion towards his family, he was just so confident in his himself and his abilities that he never thought what would happen if he failed.
With that in mind, I was still able to enjoy “Captain Fantastic” as a comedy even if it was quite dark at times. All the characters were fun and interesting and this was Viggo Mortensen’s best performance in years. It was great to see Frank Langella an actor who only seems to improve with age even if his role was small. Much of “Captain Fantastic” was filmed in either the Pacific Northwest or the southwest but fortunately, both settings had some gorgeous scenery, which the camera work excellently complimented.
My only complaints were that the two characters that could have been the most interesting were given the least to do. Kielyr Cash (Samantha Isler) and Vespyr Cash (Annalise Basso) were the two oldest daughters of the family and you’d think that they would have the most to complain about. Lady’s you think is sucks when your period hit’s well imagine having it while in the middle of the woods with the nearest drug store fifty miles away. While Vesper is part of one of the most important moments in the film most of the character development was given is Rellian and Bo. This doesn’t ruin the movie it just seems like a missed opportunity.
If there’s any overarching message to “Captain Fantastic” I think it’s how despite the best of intentions revolutionary fervor can destroy its self. Ben and his family went to the woods to escape the tyranny of big government and organized religion and to raise children that would change the world for the better. But while they became physical and mental marvels, they have no expense with other people. Strangely Ben himself has become somewhat of a king to his children despite his desire to foster their independence.
Fortunately, by the end, Ben has been confronted with his mistakes and is making changes. What’s even better is that unlike so many other Ben emerged with his family and Ideals intact. What makes Ben fantastic is not only that he wants’ to change the world but that he’s shown that he can change along with the world, a rare man indeed.
Did I like the movie: Yes
Would I watch it again: Yes
Would I buy it: No
What’s the worst thing about new years: I just got done with 365 days, but now I have to go thru another 365, it’s exhausting man.