Captain Fantastic (15)

Synopsis:

Father of six Ben Cash raises his children off the grid in the middle of the woods in order to teach them real skills that formal education would not. He is determined to teach his children to be “philosopher kings”. When he learns that his wife has died, Ben and his children set out to attend the funeral and give his wife the sending off she would have wanted, despite being threatened with arrest by his father-in-law.

Review:

An indie-spirited quirky comedy that performed well at Sundance and Cannes and contains multiple discussions about Marxist philosophy, who wants to guess how much I loved this movie?

A lot. I loved this movie one hell of a lot. It’s incredibly funny, heart-warming and I would go so far as to say: moving. I don’t think I have ever seen a film quite like Captain Fantastic and that is one of its main strengths, it is completely and utterly original. I didn’t know what to expect from Captain Fantastic at any point and that made the whole viewing experience vastly entertaining. If there’s one film that comes close to capturing the same feel of Captain Fantastic, it is most likely the wonderful indie film: The Kings of Summer.

The opening of Captain Fantastic was unexpected and quite sinister. A lot of comparisons have been drawn between Ben Cash and Charles Manson and it is a comparison that is earned within those opening minutes. One of Cash’s sons stalks and kills a deer and Ben cuts out the liver and makes him eat it. All the while he’s daubed in camouflage face paint and sporting an untamed beard that gives him a slightly unhinged Manson-like appearance. However, this version of the character fades over the course of the film as we see his more caring, family-oriented side that includes him buying a chocolate cake for his children in order to celebrate “Noam Chomsky Day”.

There are some captivating performances in Captain Fantastic, none more so than Viggo Mortensen’s performance as Ben Cash. It’s a different performance from what I’ve seen him do before, I may not like every film he’s been in but there can be no denying that he is a very versatile actor. His characterisation of Ben Cash is compelling, funny, anarchic and ultimately heart-breaking. He presides over his family as a loving father figure, but at times he veers into the territory of not-always-benevolent dictator and it’s the seamless transition between these two sides of the same character that makes his performance so engaging.

Verdict:

A very charming film featuring a masterful performance from Viggo Mortensen. This film has humour, charm and a beating heart and I could quite happily watch it a good two or three times more. I heartily recommend this film to anyone and everyone who wants to see a real film that’s about something rather than another bloated CGI mess that is about nothing. It’s an excellent film, an utter joy.

Stars: 4/5

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