Captain Fantastic is one of those movies that everybody says they want to see Hollywood make more of, and then when they actually do, nobody goes out and supports it. (No, Captain Fantastic is not another lower tiered Marvel superhero.) This is a must-see for serious moviegoers and a should-see for all others. You don't have much time or opportunity to catch it in a theater but my guess is the film will come around again come Oscar season.
This gist of the story is that a father (Viggo Mortensen) takes his six children into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest to raise them sans any modern conveniences. You know, Walden Pond style. No TV, iPads, phones, electricity--nothing but books and the labor of their hands. And survival ain't always easy it would seem. One of the best qualities of this film (and there are many) is the fact that the judgement of this parenting style are left up to us. The director (Matt Ross) lets the audience decide whether the family's adventure is inspired or reckless and the result is that you go back and forth before settling on an opinion.
The kids, also, have different takes on their existence. Devoted to each other unfailingly, still, at least one of them gets glittery eyed at the sight of a modern day suburban neighborhood. This would have been me and I empathized with this character immediately. Kathryn Hahn (most recently seen scene-stealing in Bad Moms) delivers another stellar performance as the relative who's trying to step-in to bring the kids into "normality". And at times you're really rooting for her. The kids are all uber smart (books are more than allowed, they're required) but are simultaneously social invalids. Suffice it to say a crisis comes which forces Mortensen's character to make some tough choices. Has he done the right thing or has he burdened his children as a result of his own fears?
As you try to decide whether he's acting selfishly or selflessly towards his children, you're struck with a confusing proposition: maybe it's both.
This movie is more than entertaining and engaging, it's cerebrally nourishing. Absolutely one of the ten best for the year, I urge you to go out of your way to see Captain Fantastic.
(Loudinni provides movie reviews under 500 words--no spoilers.)