November 8, 2016

Captain Fantastic

Matt Ross, 2016
Captain Fantastic is one of those films that seemed to slip between the cracks over the course of 2016. Which is strange because on paper it looks like an interesting movie. Viggo Mortensen stars as father of six kids who live remotely in the Pacific Northwest forests and struggles to maintain order within his family after his wife suddenly passes away. It feels like an easy sell. And makes you wonder why this film didn't really generate a lot of buzz over the course of the year. Perhaps because it's so indie-feeling. Some of those quirky indies, if they aren't directed by Wes Anderson, struggle to float to the surface among the many bigger budget films that distract from these smaller ones over the course of the year. Mortensen is becoming one of those actors that, like Clive Owen, are so consistent that you know you are going to get a good performance from them in any film. He's able to bring an energy to his Ben character that makes it hard to picture anyone else in his place.

Theres a certain degree of hypnosis pretty quickly when a Sigur Ros tune starts playing in the background and you are treated to some superb cinematography with some beautiful lighting. Basically a showcase of their forest spread. Giving you the indication that they have been there, roots are pretty deep, comfort is there. Some of this daydreamy vision that exists in the film is reminiscent of The Spectacular Now, which also had a lot of ambition and heart but not all of it landed like it does with this film. Some of the quirkiness is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson piece, particular the way Anderson approaches some normally morbid subject matter. In fact this film could be regarded as the 2016 Wes Anderson movie that he didn't do. The forest world that's constructed is reminiscent of the The Kings of Summer, another indie that slipped by a few years back and should have received more praise.

This is a film that should be seen. There are things that are done here that haven't been the same way before. Brutally honest moments at a dinner table. Umcomfortable moments at a funeral that haven't been seen since Harold and Maude. The way the film deals with death late in the film has an intrepid black comedy approach that is heartbreaking but also emotionally rewarding.

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