I wanted to see Captain Fantastic as soon as I saw a trailer for it. Unfortunately it didn’t get a wide release and was only shown at our local independent theater. I am actually quite glad I saw this at home since I ended up bawling the whole time. I give it the rating: Must See Film!
Captain Fantastic is currently available on DVD
Viggo Mortensen is Ben Cash. He along with his wife, Leslie, raise their six children in the middle of the forest. They are survivalists, hunting and growing their own food, and intellectuals. After Leslie passes, her father forbids Ben from coming to her funeral. Needing closure the family makes their way to New Mexico for the service and burial.
The strong writing and directing in this film show when Leslie, the family matriarch, is made a whole person. Ben has a few visions of her throughout the film but I would estimate the actress gets less than five minutes of screen time. We learn so much about her beyond her disease. She used to own a successful law firm and loved classical music. She was a Buddhist. Everyone in the movie is so sensitive to her. Too often I feel like people with mental health issues in films (and real life) are marginalized and written off simply as “crazy.”
I love Ben. I think he is a great dad. He respects the ideas and autonomy of his children. There are a number of scenes throughout where he asks them to present how they feel about a situation. At one point his son, Rellian, is frustrated that the family is celebrating Noam Chomsky Day instead of Christmas “like a normal family.” Although Rellian storms off in a fluster, his father and siblings are waiting to hear what he had to say. He never lies to his children and never underestimates their capacity to understand what is going on around them. All six children are extremely intelligent but being raised in the middle of the woods with little-to-no outside influence does make his children slightly awkward.
Bring the tissues!
This movie is absolutely heartbreaking. Ben does have faults as a father and husband but I appreciate this so much because we all do. He is very human. Ben is a husband who did not know how to help his bipolar wife and truly believes their utopia will save her. He doesn’t know his oldest son wants to attend college.
I am actually on the lookout to add this to my movie collection because I feel like it is so important. I suggest this to everyone and believe it promotes understanding. The story and every single person in it is so real and easy to connect to. Seeing the family try to navigate through loss and remain intact will pull your heartstrings. Check out Captain Fantastic ASAP!
Jonathan also reviewed this and got to see it in a theater. Read his review: HERE.