Every so often a film comes along which is completely unlike any other you have seen. This is very much the case with Captain Fantastic. Viggo Mortensen leads the cast as Ben a father of six who is effectively living off the grid in the Pacific Northwest. His wife is suffering from mental health issues in a hospital. He and his children are a modern-day Swiss Family Robinson.
The family have been taught to hunt, to stay fit and to fight to survive in the wild and there’s not an iPhone, TV or computer game to distract them. They read books, play music and have open and honest discussions on everything from life to death. They don’t know any other way of life, and as far as they do know, the life they have is a relatively good one.
When Ben receives news that his wife Leslie (Trin Miller) has taken her own life the family are devastated. Her father blames Ben for her fragile state and threatens him with arrest if he shows up at the funeral. Determined to give their mother the burial she wanted (a follower of Buddhism) they pile into their bright yellow school bus and make their way to her.
Along the way they stop at Ben’s sister Harper’s (Kathyrn Hahn) for the night. It’s here we see for the first time the division in beliefs, values and family dynamics that exist between the families. Harper’s kids are glued to their phones during dinner while Ben’s kids talk history and politics. Each parent believes they are doing the best for their children and of course its only when your seemingly perfect life is questioned by someone else that you start to really think about it.
The cracks begin to surface more the closer they get to their destination. While stopped at a camp ground, Bo the eldest son (George MacKay) is frustrated by the fact he can barely look at a girl and say hello but can talk for hours about the history of America. For the first time he also tells Ben that he has applied for and been accepted to a half a dozen of the top colleges.
On arrival at the funeral, Leslie’s father Jack (Frank Langella) calls the police and Ben is at risk of losing his children. Following an accident with his daughter Vespyr, he begins to question whether the children are equipped for a world outside their own and agrees to let them stay with Jack, the grandfather they’ve never known.
It’s not all doom and gloom Captain Fantastic is a smart and often hilarious movie too. Now rather than give away too much instead I suggest you go see it. The movie doesn’t just present one lifestyle and tell you this is right and everything else is wrong. Its left open and lets you choose.Captain Fantastic is an original and inspired movie. There are strong performances from the entire cast and the movie leaves you with plenty to think about. I’m giving it 4/5. Check out the trailer below for a snippet of what to expect.