Many people talk about leaving the hustle and bustle of modern-day society to live off the grid and be one with nature, but then they grab their phones and go back to their digital trance and forget all about it. The new film Captain Fantastic starring Viggo Mortensen takes an intriguing look at a man named Ben who left the world behind for a life away from a system he deemed evil. Ben is not alone in the woods though. He’s also raising his six children and educating them with a very unique curriculum that not only includes reading classic literature, but also risking his kids lives with physical tests like taking his small children rock climbing where falling to your death could be a possible outcome.
At times during Captain Fantastic it’s hard not to cringe at the way Ben treats his children, whether it’s his blunt talk about sex with his youngest daughter or giving his kids huge knives as gifts for the family’s hunting trips. It harks back to the days when man had to kill his dinner with his bare hands. You’ll shake your head at Ben’s parental methods, but when the family is forced to re-enter society due to a family issue, you will understand there is a method to Ben’s perceived madness. His kids respect their elders, are highly educated and have no idea about Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. Ben has raised six well read individuals, but they are also aliens at times due to their sheltered upbringing. Ben’s kids may be able to recite War and Peace, but they are unable to have a normal conversation with a kid their age.
The message behind Captain Fantastic isn’t just to point at society and say “put down your phones.” The film shows the positive and the negative of raising six children off the grid and the perceived notions of both sides. The glue that holds this interesting family study together is the outstanding performance of Viggo Mortensen. Intelligent, savage, rude, arrogant, and caring are the many sides we get to see thanks to Viggo’s portrayal of Ben. The former Lord of the Rings actor will have you applauding him one minute, then condemning him the next because of the example he is setting for his children. Ben is a character you can never quite put your finger on when it comes to labels. He may be a loving father, but he still has a paranoid streak that puts his offspring in serious danger both mentally and physically at times.
Captain Fantastic is a beautifully shot and well crafted film that is anchored by the strong performance from Viggo Mortensen. The life depicted in Captain Fantastic may seem abnormal to most, but for the Cash family this is their everyday life they have come to accept. The film also contains some solid supporting performances from Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn and the cast of young actors and actresses who play Ben’s children including George MacKay, Annalise Basso and newcomer Shree Crooks. Make no mistake though, this is Viggo’s show and his role in Captain Fantastic will kickstart the 2016 Oscar race in the Lead Actor category for sure.
Overall, I give Captain Fantastic 3 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell