Watch Captain Fantastic
- 1 hr 58 min
Captain Fantastic is a 2016 American drama film directed and written by Matt Ross. The film tells the story of Ben Cash (played by Viggo Mortensen), who is raising his six children off the grid in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. Ben is an unconventional father who teaches his children to be self-sufficient and curious about the world around them, but when a tragedy strikes, the family is forced to leave their isolated life and confront the norms of modern society. The film opens with a glimpse into the family's isolated existence, showing Ben and his kids hunting, foraging, and living in a rustic wooden house. They are homeschooling, reading literature and discussing philosophical ideas, celebrating Noam Chomsky Day instead of Christmas, and engaging in physical and mental challenges meant to hone their survival skills. It's a world both idyllic and grueling, one in which the children thrive, but one that also presents a lot of challenges. However, things change when Ben learns of the death of his wife Leslie, who has been hospitalized for bipolar disorder. This forces Ben and his kids back into the "real world" where they are immediately out of their element. Benâs children encounter many different people and lifestyles they have never experienced before, including modern technology, drugs, and the crass uncle and aunt whom Leslie had cut off from the family. Throughout the film, we see Ben's parenting style portrayed in contrast with his sister-in-law's, who criticizes Ben's choice of homeschooling and physical activities for the children. This leads him to start doubting the choices he made. One of Ben's children, oldest son Bodevan, applies to Harvard University, and the other children start to wonder if life off the grid is what they really want. The tension that follows is intense, as the characters must grapple with their beliefs and values. The standout performances in the film come from Mortensen, who effortlessly captures the nuances of a man who is both a loving father and a deeply flawed human being, and the young cast, who are all engaging and believable as hyper-articulate, proudly autonomous children. Of all of them, MacKay, as oldest son Bodevan, has the most substantial role, and he is excellent as a young man trying to figure out what he wants from life and a father who is both brilliant and frustratingly rigid. Captain Fantastic also grapples with larger questions of societal norms and expectations. The film paints a critical portrait of consumerist culture, conservative Christianity, and state education, while evocatively portraying the beauty and intellectual richness of nature. It raises the question of whether people should prioritize their collective right to safety and security over their own personal choices, a theme that becomes more relevant nowadays, as the world becomes more divisive and polarized. Overall, Captain Fantastic is an engrossing and evocative film, striking a perfect balance between humour and pathos. It's thought-provoking, timely, and heart-warming in equal measure, with a delightful cast and sharp, insightful writing. If you're looking for a heartfelt drama about the complexities of modern life, this film is worth checking out.