Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic” tells the story of Ben (Viggo Mortensen), a dad who raises his 6 kids in the woods of the Pacific Northwest away from civilization, which he believes to be tainted. When the kid’s mother dies, he is forced to begin a trek with his family out into the “normal” world to attend her funeral.
Viggo Mortensen is terrific in the lead role, displaying a great balance of acceptance, anger and humility over the situation. Each of the child actors performs very well, and they all have great chemistry together.
The film starts off very promising, posing questions about the affects of consumerism on the family, the value of connecting with nature and the role of fatherhood. It is a prototypical road-trip movie and follows the formula well.
However it peters out near the film’s conclusion as the theme becomes a bit muddy. Is Ben crazy to try and raise his family without outside interference? Is he admirable? Was the kid’s mother’s final wish a reflection of her personality or an effect of her mental instability? What is the film trying to say? The movie has trouble making its final say.
But in the end, the film is enjoyable, brisk and interesting. It won’t stick with you for long, but it’s not a waste of your time either.