Captain Fantastic is one of the most original and underrated gems of the last year. Following similar styles as films such as Little Miss Sunshine, it is a funny look at some of the more overlooked issues in modern life. It is funny, intelligent and heart-warming whilst also being heart-wrenching.
The film follows Ben (Viggo Mortensen), a man who has raised his 6 children in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Living a life of extreme physical training together with a particularly high end approach to home schooling, his children have blossomed into highly intelligent people of the wilderness. Upon learning of his ill wife’s suicide, Ben must take the plunge, moving his children out of the forest and into the real world so they can attend her funeral and fulfill their mother’s dying wish.
While Viggo Mortensen portrays Ben excellently, he’s not a particularly likeable character. It is really the children who steal the show, especially the youngest ones. They are all unique in their own way and bring something different to the film, but also form a cohesive bond that pulls everything together. Much of the story focusses on oldest son Bo’s journey – like his siblings, he’s extremely intelligent and has a whole host of incredible skills, but has been deprived of ‘normal’ experience and cultural references, and it’s seeing the children get to grips with this in the real world where this film really works. Brilliant writing is on show here, really capturing the social awkwardness and complete naivety of the children.
One thing Captain Fantastic does really well – which can be rare on the movie screen – is provide a new perspective on life. It makes you wish you did more, learned more; it makes you appreciate the beauty of the natural world and brings a new meaning to the sense of family. It is a beautiful portrayal of sociological views that can educate and reaffirm your own values.
We give Captain Fantastic 4 stars for providing a unique take on modern life and what it means to really live to the full. With triumphant performances all round and genuine emotions portrayed throughout, this is a must watch and not one to be overlooked.
Captain Fantastic is out now on DVD here.