By the time you read this review, there’s a good chance that Captain Fantastic will not be playing anymore. When I finally found time to review this movie, there was only one showing in one theatre. It’s a shame because Captain Fantastic was, well…. great.
I normally stray away from giving a synopsis of a movie in my review because I find it a bit pointless, but considering I’m probably one of a hundred people that know about this film, allow me to give a few details: Captain Fantastic stars Viggo Mortensen who plays Ben, a man living out in the forest with his six children. When a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to take a trip into civilization. Once out of the woods, massive culture shock hits the family as they interact with people who have “succumbed to the evils of capitalism”.
First off, Mortensen does a pretty good job in his lead role. His performance doesn’t necessarily stand out, but there are layers to his character that are fascinating to watch. Throughout the entire movie, his character is challenged with the perception of whether or not he’s doing the right thing for his kids.
Speaking of his kids, not only is each child actor given an actual character to portray (as opposed to just being walking props to make Mortensen more relatable), but all six of them pull their weight in whatever scene they are in. There is not one scene I can think of where any of them performed poorly.
This movie does have moments where it becomes political, and I normally do not enjoy when a movie does this. However, considering Ben’s political views are mainly to define his character (and consequently contrasts everyone else around him) and not just a walking puppet head spouting out the director’s beliefs, I actually enjoyed some of the political stances Ben espouses… and I am someone who would consider his political beliefs (not his social beliefs, by the way) to be largely ridiculous and air-headed. But hey, this movie made me Wikipedia Noam Chomsky, so there’s that.
Ben’s beliefs, philosophy, and the way he raises his children contrast so much with everyone they run into that it makes for some hilarious scenes (and a few rather uncomfortable ones). But the array of emotions this movie captures is expansive. Captain Fantastic warmed my heart, it shocked me, it made me laugh, it made me frustrated, it made me extremely upset.
All of these emotions came from me caring about these characters, and that is because the movie does a fantastic job at actually developing them.
There’s a scene in this movie where Viggo Mortensen is completely naked, including at least five seconds of seeing his penis. I’ll let you decided if that’s a positive or negative, but frankly, I could have gone without it. It’s not like having it in there detracts from its overall score, but I figured I’d warn you before you see the movie.
The only real complaints I have about this movie are minor. There are one or two points to the story where I thought it did not logically make sense. These scenes were mainly ones that were used for humor, but they did so at the expense of what was established before (I know, I know. You can quit rolling your eyes at me).
Captain Fantastic was a very pleasant experience, and I am glad I got to watch it. I would not say that it’s for everyone, but if you enjoy independent films, or if you just enjoy actual storytelling, then I would recommend at least checking this one out.