Captain Fantastic: Beautiful, Heartfelt & Delightful To Watch – My Thoughts

The first movie of my 4 Films 2 Days cinema trip was this one…Captain Fantastic!! Coming so huge out of Sundance like it did, I’d been excited to see this one for months…firstly, here’s something new…a video review…

But if you prefer written pieces…I know I’m significantly better at doing those. Then here’s one of them too…

Captain Fantastic: Beautiful, Heartfelt & Delightful To Watch

One of the most important aspects of a film is to tell a good story and while films often go deeper than this, exploring all manner of themes, concepts and ideologies, the story is often what can make or break a movie.

Occasionally, a thin story can be salvaged by outstanding performances, stunning visuals or an important message; Captain Fantastic had the outstanding performance, it had the beautiful visuals, it went deeper with its message and themes…and it told an incredible story.

All the parts clicked together wonderfully and formed this film, a heartfelt tale about a father raising his children off the grid, having to deal with his wife’s/their mother’s passing and taking a journey to ensure she gets the funeral she wanted.

There are many, many excellent things about this film so it says something that one part of it stands out. That is Viggo Mortensen, most known for his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, who plays the father, Ben Cash. He, and the audience along with him, go through an emotional rollercoaster. Ben is charming man, a father who loves his children more than anything but undoubtedly stubborn and definitely controversial.

His decision to raise his children outside of ‘normal society’, teaching them philosophy and training their bodies to the extent of Olympic athletes certainly comes under scrutiny from his father-in-law (Frank Langella) who believes Ben has ruined the children’s lives and threatens to have him arrested if he comes near his wife’s Christian funeral.

What proceeds is a heartwarming and funny road trip that felt a little like 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, a film which blew up after receiving huge plaudits from film festivals that year. It seems like Captain Fantastic, after coming out of the Sundance Film Festival so huge earlier this year, may take a similar journey to Little Miss Sunshine and may very well have people talking about it come awards season

The film certainly tugs at the heartstrings in the third act and this is where Mortensen really shines. His ability to create the intense emotion his character is going through is incredible and after the more light-hearted moments that came before it (including a humorous full frontal nude scene from Mortensen), the shift in tone is really felt and really appreciated.

Captain Fantastic is yet another example of this summer’s exceptional independent releases. No, the blockbusters may not have been particularly great, but the indies were consistently high quality and with three other ‘under-the-radar’ supposed gems being released in the UK this weekend, you will not be lost for a great film experience.

This film, aside from Mortensen, also showcased great and often funny performances from all the actors playing Ben’s children. The relationships between Ben and each of his children are brilliant to watch and it is clear that, despite signs that a couple of them desire to be raised in ‘normal society’, they each have an incredible respect and love for their father and what he has done for them.

The scenes of them all, sat round a fire reading, playing musical instruments or simply just talking are some of the most effective in the entire film in creating the delightful impression that you have of these characters.

There is a good deal of politics and philosophy in play in Captain Fantastic which may or may not affect people’s judgement of the film but it seems that most people would, to an extent agree with parts of what Ben Cash is doing whilst agreeing with the opposing view that he takes it to the extreme. There is an analysis of Vladimir Nabokov’s book ‘Lolita’ spoken in the film and that analysis that you don’t agree with what the protagonist is doing, yet you sympathise with him anyway is a great mirror of the character of Ben Cash.

Writer/Director, Matt Ross has given us what may very well be the best independent film of the year, in a year that has been great for indies. Captain Fantastic deserves all the good things that you have been hearing about it.

Heartfelt, beautiful and truly delightful to watch.


Be sure to let me know your thoughts on Captain Fantastic in the comments and check me out on Twitter and Instagram! You can also head on over to the PurpleDon YouTube Channel and check out all the content there including the HorrorHouse Podcast!!

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