Directed by Matt Ross
Both the synopsis and the film cover of “Captain Fantastic”, a half-comedic, half-dramatic adventure engendered by the actor-turned-director Matt Ross, might lead you to believe that this is a film for all the family.
Well, it’s not, unless you belong to a liberal, anarchic household like the one Mr. Ross portraits here.
Ben (Viggo Mortensen), a caring-yet-demanding father, lives isolated in the middle of a forest in the Pacific Northwest with his six children. He totally believes in a rigorous education based on philosophical theories learned from the books, a total openness about any subject, including sex, and the cultivation of physical well-being through intensive exercise. His older boy, Bodevan (George MacKay), is now a man and proved it by hunting a deer with his own hands. Without his father knowing, he was accepted in the most prestigious American universities.
When Ben’s bipolar wife commits suicide, after a few months in the hospital, the kids have an opportunity to leave their "free cage”. With Ben driving an old school bus, they set off on a road trip to New Mexico to attend the funeral of their mom with the intention of stealing the body in order to cremate it, as it was her wish.
Both Bodevan and his younger brother don’t want to go back with their father due to different reasons, willing to adapt to the modern world rather than being part of a closed and disciplined literary circle in the woods. At first, Ben doesn’t understand these choices, but an unexpected accident makes him reevaluate all his lifestyle.
Despite the well-founded idea and the totally entertaining atmosphere created, the film had a margin for better maneuvers, occasionally showing pretentious poses and constantly displaying scenes that oscillate between gripping and senseless.
It was this weird mix of seriousness and dullness that left me confused in the end. However, the balance was positive and the film, besides the humane side and good heart, showcases terrific performances from the cast.