Movie: Captain Fantastic
My Rating: 5 stars
What a great movie! Somehow, I missed this one right when it came out. But, a friend recommended it to me, saying that it was really good, so I decided to check it out. And, the movie really is fun. It’s funny, and sad, and awkward and amazing. I’ve found that that’s often the mark of a great movie—when a script elicits many different, conflicting emotions. I was expecting to like this movie, and that usually means I’m setting myself up for disappointment. But this time, it far exceeded my expectations.
This is the story of a man (played by Viggo Mortensen) living out in the woods with his pack of six children. They’re living completely off the grid, and dad is homeschooling his brood. Naturally, their education is wildly unconventional. It’s a combination of history, philosophy, advanced science, outdoorsmanship, and intense survival skills. And, since he doesn’t have to teach at a pace that would be appropriate for a whole class, their curriculum is extremely accelerated. These are amazing kids. Their knowledge would put most adults to shame. So, even though dad is almost certainly a little bit insane, the training clearly seems to be doing the kids some good. But, things get sticky when they learn that their mother has died. Dad and kids would like to go to her funeral, but the in-laws have they’ve made it clear that this pack of wildlings will not be welcome there. It’s a comedy of errors (albeit a dark one) as these kids are introduced to American culture for the first time.
I’m not really doing this film justice. The story is interesting enough, but the real magic comes from the crazy characters and the amazing acting. Of course, Viggo Mortensen is great. But, the whole pack of kids is also pretty special. They’ve perfectly captured the type of wild, precocious, socially awkward geniuses that this sort of an upbringing would produce. Each child has her own quirk, or his own bizarre personality. I think it would be really interesting to be such a creature if it didn’t seem so annoying to be raised by such a strict, pedantic dad.
This is a great movie, and you should rent it. You’ll be cheering for Viggo and his kids, even though they aren’t presented as perfect people. There’s a lot of grey area in the script, and it’ll stir up some pretty complex emotions. But, mostly the movir is sweet and funny and heartwarming in the weirdest way possible.