Captain Fantastic

By Angie Raphael

Striking the right balance between drama and comedy, Captain Fantastic is a thought-provoking tale with beautiful cinematography and a strong cast. Written and directed by Matt Ross, Captain Fantastic is about Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and his family of six children who have retreated from modern society and capitalism to live in the wilderness. They hunt for food, go rock climbing, read a lot, play music together like the von Trapp family and celebrate Noam Chomsky Day instead of Christmas. But then their mother, who has been in hospital for a few months, dies and the family is banned by her father from attending the funeral. Knowing his wife was a Buddhist who would rather be cremated and have her remains flushed down a toilet, Ben and the children embark on a family road trip to fulfil her wishes. 

Mortensen is captivating and carries the two-hour film almost perfectly. The young cast members around him are also talented and each is given adequate screen time. Some may view Ben as a cult leader, but it can also be argued his influence over his children is not drastically different to any other parent. His children are educated, although not with conventional schooling, and they have important life skills that other youths do not have. Concurrently though, they are deprived of a childhood in some ways because they are treated more like soldiers and are not shielded from the harsh realities of life. Ultimately, Captain Fantastic is an engrossing film that raises a lot of questions worth debating.