September 29, 2016
Captain Fantastic USA
Showtimes: 6:30 & 8:40 pm
Director: Matt Ross
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Kathryn Hahn
Runtime: 118 minutes
“Captain Fantastic leaves viewers with the cheering, deeply affecting image of a dad whose superpowers lie in simply doing the best that he can.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Un Certain Regard Award (directing), Cannes Film Festival; Directors to Watch Award, Palm Springs International Film Festival; Best Film, Seattle International Film Festival.
Not to be confused with the stable of superheroes currently cramming cinema screens, Matt Ross’ Captain Fantastic is an engaging, comic family road movie. Viggo Mortensen is bearded Ben, who, along with his wife (Trin Miller) have taken their brood of six kids ‘way off the grid, living in a yurt in rural Washington.
The kids all have made-up names. They are trained in martial arts and rock-climbing. Their food is either hunted or grown. They read books assigned by dad, ranging from Dostoyevsky to particle physics. They have comical philosophical disputes.
However, when mom dies, their world is completely rocked, revealing budding fissures in the family unit. Upon learning that Jack, (Frank Langella) their mom’s father and their grandfather, is planning a Christian funeral, the appalled troupe head off in the family bus to New Mexico.
The oddness of the family begins to look less bizarre when compared to the freakishness that passes for 21st century American normality. A trip to a diner, a supermarket, and a tussle with a traffic policeman result in some amusing cultural conflicts. The family’s naiveté is blithely illustrated when father Ben greets the morning in the buff: “It’s only a penis,” he tells a passing elderly couple.
However it is at the funeral where they confront mom’s parents and come to realize that their lifestyle might not be sustainable as the forces of reaction line up against them.
Captain Fantastic benefits from a witty, politically aware script. The kids are enjoyable and Mortensen is wonderful in the title role, showing a light hand at comedy. Perhaps it is not so ironic to realize that Captain Fantastic really may be a superhero movie after all.