Fan­tas­tic ad­ven­tures

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch


Di­rec­tor: Matt Ross (28 Ho­tel Rooms) Star­ring: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Lan­gella, Ge­orge MacKay, Samantha Isler, An­nalise Basso, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn Ver­dict: A way of life, away from life

A DE­LIB­ER­ATELY mis­lead­ing ti­tle is the only dis­trac­tion on of­fer in an oth­er­wise un­can­nily focused film.

So don’t show up at Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic ex­pect­ing to see a su­per­hero of any kind.

In­stead, you will be meet­ing a fam­ily who puts the ‘cult’ in counter-cul­ture.

The win­dow through which you will gain a dis­arm­ingly clear view of this un­usual clan is a mag­nif­i­cent, nu­anced per­for­mance from Viggo Mortensen. He plays Ben Cash, the father of six very in­di­vid­ual chil­dren he has been rais­ing, school­ing and sim­ply run­ning wild with, deep in the forests of Amer­ica’s Pa­cific north­west.

The fam­ily doesn’t just live off the grid. They may as well be liv­ing on an­other planet. Each one of the chil­dren (aged from five to 16) can hunt, trap and kill their own food. They do not know of pop­u­lar global brands such as Nike or Coke. But they can quote ver­ba­tim from the great works of lit­er­a­ture.

By now, you should be get­ting the pic­ture that this lot are proudly not on the same page as the rest of so­ci­ety. Ben Cash and his off­spring are too busy writ­ing their own des­tiny.

The one missing link in this cap­ti­vat­ing tale as it very rapidly cap­tures your at­ten­tion is the where­abouts of Ben’s wife.

Without giv­ing too much away, it is her ab­sence that trig­gers an un­planned re­turn by Ben and his brood to the real world.

The road trip that fol­lows – in a di­lap­i­dated for­mer school bus named Steve – is not so much a jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery for the fam­ily. Cap­tain Fan­tas­tic isn’t that kind of con­ven­tional movie, and fur­ther­more, Ben and his chil­dren are al­ready well aware of who they are.

No, what we come to see here is a pe­riod of im­pro­vised self-ad­just­ment, ut­terly nec­es­sary if the group are to make it in­tact to their in­tended des­ti­na­tion.

This fam­ily may not be able to change the world, but if their be­liefs hold true, then the world won’t stand a chance of chang­ing this fam­ily.

Though the end­ing will not sat­isfy all view­ers, what the film achieves in ques­tion­ing what stands for fam­ily val­ues in to­day’s world is guar­an­teed to leave a last­ing im­pres­sion.

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