Captain Fantastic (2016)



A father lives with his children in the forest. He teaches them how to hunt and survive, and feeds them all sorts of books for knowledge. They live away from the city, from society. They are happy as they are. However, the death of their mother prompts them to leave their safe haven and make their way to civilization. Due to their upbringing however, they find it difficult to adapt.

Viggo Mortensen's performance in this great, but it's the kids who make the whole act work. Their attachment and outlook of him steers the narrative from conflict to conflict, from arguments to poignant moments, even as they awkwardly stumble through learning how to live. As they dive into the realities of the world, their actions are genuine even if sometimes misplaced. If anything Ben is simply the driver of the story, but he does a fantastic job of it.

Captain Fantastic is very humane this way. Ben has his obvious bias toward authority and society, but his kids are influenced by external factors as they explore the intricacies of what is foreign to them. As much as their opinions come across as haughty, bordering on snobbish at times, is how they were taught. This eventually sees them at the crossroads after Ben realizes how his kids will grow up.

The ending leaves me a bit contentious. It certainly chooses to take a stance on the matter, but also brings the whole film back to it's beginnings, albeit from a different perspective. We see the family together again, but this time things are very different.



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