Sep 30, 2016

Review: Captain Fantastic

I am naturally not a fan of family/drama movie genre as I prefer not to get emotionally moved by heavy themes and realistic ending, which in most cases, a sad one. No no no, monsieur. But sometime last week, as the pretext of spending time together, Z and I decided to watch this movie after she got back from work. 

I roughly know what this movie is all about from watching the trailer: Mortensen, acting as King Aragorn of Gondor Ben Cash is a father of 6 children - Bodevan, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja (my favourite), and Nai. They are what most of the people call as the unconventional  family; the children are home schooled and they live in wilderness where they hunt their own food, plant their own crops, and distilled their own water.

Apart from learning survival skills from their father, the six children also learned a lot of philosophy by reading books together at night around the bonfire. Ben has a notebook with him where he takes note the progress of all the children's reading and asks them what they have learnt from the books. Ranging topics from capitalism, the Bill of Rights, to the discussion of the theme of the controversial book Lolita, the kids are exposed to subjects most kids around their age know nothing about.

The movie is about family and parenthood, and the plot unravels when they learnt that their sick mother who has been hospitalized for 3 months had committed suicide. The death of their mother affects every one of them, and more so for Ben as he has to raise the kids all on his own from now on. It also affects their wealthy grandparents (Leslie's parents), who blamed Ben for making Leslie leaving her law practice and for having an anti-establishment lifestyle. As the movie thickens, we are showed how some of the children face problems when facing the other side of the real world - Bo having no clue how to talk to a girl, Rellian blaming Ben for his mom's death, and the threat of custody taken away from Ben as Leslie's parents were appalled that the kids have never gone to school. And after an accident happened, Ben is faced with a realization that his parenthood might be dangerous after all, that "it is all too much".

Despite the heavy setting of the movie, there are light and funny moments as well. I personally like Zaja. She is not afraid to be herself (she wears wolf head for a hat) and she let her curiosity be met with answers. She asks questions and Ben, who wants his kids to learn as earnestly as possible, will give direct answers. In one scene where Zaja questions about what is sex, Ben answered it in simple sentences involving related anatomy parts. 

Mortensen is really superb in this movie. As Ben struggles to raise his kids alone and trying to find ways to honor his wife's last will and testament, he displayed a great variety of emotions. I also like how determined the kids are and how they trust their father and his way of teaching. So much so that Ben finally admits that the way he raises his children is actually more as a way to help Leslie cope with her bipolar disorder.

Overall, this is a great movie to watch.
Rating: 8/10

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