Viggo Mortensen is brilliant in the role of Ben, a father who lives a cult-like life with its six children.
The opening is suggestive of an approach from a great height down to a green, mountainous and inaccessible wilderness. There is discerned some creatures in a kind of war masks hidden in the shrubbery. A deer appears and shot to death with bow.
It is the teenage Bos (George MacKay) mognadsrit. After being cut out and eaten one of the animal’s internal organs, he has gone from boy to man.
But we are us not with any remaining parental strain but on a hippie settlement in the Pacific Northwest, where Ben’s father (Viggo Mortensen) is living a cultish lives with her six children. He carries a civilization critical education that also contains hard daily physical exercise.
The children speak a variety of languages. They do what nature and wildlife offer. Their self-built huts are filled with classic books like “Crime and Punishment”, “The Brothers Karamazov” and also Nabokov’s “Lolita” and “How to enjoy sex.”
Children should be well-versed in sexualia and know what happens when the teenager’s hormones start to rush, something that later leads to one of the film’s funniest but also a bit tragic scenes. Eventually we learn that the mother is away and cared for bipolar disorder.
conflict between Ben alternative lifestyle, strongly influenced by social critic Noam Chomsky anarcho-syndicalism, and it capitalistic, consumption obsessed US becomes apparent when the father traveling with kids in their hippie bus south to New Mexico and the mother’s family.
“Captain Fantastic – A different father” surprises from beginning to end. There is nothing predictable. Director Matt Ross tells fast-paced, effective in well composed images with French Stéphane Fontaine ( “A Prophet,” “Rust & amp; Bone”) behind the camera. Ross has excellent hand with the actors, especially the children.
Mortensen is brilliant as his father, who slowly begins to realize that his view of the world may not be the most best way to prepare children for adult life. The actor manages to make a profound psychological portrait where the pain, both after the loss of his wife as well as the paradisiacal dream, emerges strongly. It is easy to sympathize with his role figure.
For some odd reason the film has been launched as a feel-good story. I see mostly a deep original story on parenting where much of the traditional Western way of life is challenged. And where the lack of knowledge about such human rights, criticized.
The director and screenwriter Matt Ross has different ideological ideas against each other, and goes a step further when he illustrates how the ideas affect interpersonal relationships.
Here are brilliant, poignant scenes where Ben and brood storms into the church and interrupts the funeral of the mother, because it does not at all correspond with her Buddhist will.
Ben fights to each individual’s privacy be respected. But his struggle strikes partially back on him because children start to open their eyes to a different life, especially the increasingly rebellious middle son Rellion, sensitive and excellent played by Nicholas Hamilton.
“Cap’n Fantastic – A different father” raises a host of unexpected ideas and thoughts if you just scratch the surface.
Possibly go Ben’s questioning of their uppfostringsideal little too quickly at the end, but otherwise feels the title “fantastic” just right.