CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (M)
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.