Sunday, 25 September 2016

Captain Fantastic

Stories about children being raised outside mainstream society pop up every now and then. In the majority of cases there is a questioning over whether or not what is happening in these places is abusive to the kids. Society tends to look down on them because they happen to take place in far right political communities. Writer/director Matt Ross takes this idea to the other end of the political spectrum to see if we'd be okay with kids growing up in a super intellectual anti-capitalist camp in the woods.

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) raises his five kids in the woods, teaching them how to survive, but at the same time giving them the education of university students. After discovering that his wife, who had been hospitalised with bipolar disorder, has killed herself, he decides to take his kids to the funeral so that they can act on her final wishes. While the children are thrust into a world they don't fully understand, Ben clashes with his wife's father Jack (Frank Langella) about the right way to raise his kids.

Captain Fantastic is a strange movie to watch. While it has an overall positive and feel good message about doing things your own way, it feels a bit off, almost as if it is not as politicised as it already is (or should be). Probably the best thing about it is the casting. Both Viggo Mortensen and Frank Langella are perfectly cast. Mortensen is the kind of person who you could readily believe that he would be able to survive without modern society, but that probably has to do with the fact that he is always typecast in these type of roles. George MacKay, who plays Ben's oldest child Bodevan, is amazing as the wide eyed teen who has only had small glimpses of the outside world.

I suppose that the biggest fault of the movie is that the main character isn't particularly endearing. He barely shows any emotion until the final moments of the film. This lack of endearment makes the film a bit of struggle because apart from the children, no characters have any redeemable points. The film is a tad laborious for the fact that it doesn't really have enough to say about the world. It only exists because it was made.

Perhaps Matt Ross, who is better known for his roles in American Psycho, Face/Off and, more recently, Silicon Valley, should stick to acting. While this isn't his first hand at directing, it's not a very good result. Reasons to see this are limited to performances from Viggo Mortensen and George MacKay, but that's about it.

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