Captain Fantastic is a sobering look at the family dynamic. This film excels at capturing the atmosphere of a family going through a turbulent time. More than any other film this year, its characters feel very grounded in reality, despite how off kilter their upbringing may have been. Despite some slow moving scenes, this is an excellent project from first-time director Matt Ross (The Aviator, American Psycho), and is an excellent mix of the dark nature of Steve McQueen’s work and the kookiness of Wes Anderson’s.
Image: The Guardian
Captain Fantastic details the story of Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and his family, who live in the woods of the pacific northwest of America, as they mourn the death of his wife. The characters in this family all feel so real.
Ben is a father who wants to raise his children by his own beliefs and still look strong after the death of his wife. Mortensen captures this excellently somber role by confidently projecting his lines while standing with a slouched, unconfident gait. I really felt for his character as he clashed with his in-laws en-route to the funeral.
His character is also written in a way that feels realistic. I related to him but I never thought he was a patron saint. He was not a flawless person. This remains true for the rest of the cast as well, with some truly brilliant first-time performances from children.
I related to him but I never thought he was a patron saint. He was not a flawless person. This remains true for the rest of the cast as well, with some truly brilliant first-time performances from children. It all feels natural like they are a strong, loving family who is just going through a tough time.
Image: The New Yorker
The Achilles heel to the film is the edit. With a run time of over two hours, some scenes roll past at snail pace. The cinematography might be beautiful and the characterisation might be well thought out, but that does not stop the movie from occasionally becoming boring. As I left the cinema, I thought of a number of scenes that could have been shortened, or even cut out entirely. There was also at least a dozen high angle shots of the bus they travel in driving through the countryside. The slow pace of the film is not a deal breaker, but it is worth taking into consideration how much shorter the movie could have been.
Captain Fantastic is a great film to see if you are prepared to bust out the tissues and consider your own family after the credits have rolled. Along with stellar performances, there is beautiful cinematography, excellent costumes, and a great score. While the pace can drag at times, I would still recommend this film to anyone willing to give this surprisingly dark tale a try.
The Finer Cut Score
Image Credits: The Wrap.com